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Focus on Rural Health

Bringing Baby Home

By Nikki Massmann on

well baby checkup The Bringing Baby Home clinic at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Williston is a place filled with compassion and caring. New mothers proudly show off their babies and visit with nurses who shower the infants with attention. One of these nurses, Debbi Bronson, has been working with families for her entire nursing career of almost thirty years.

"It's so rewarding seeing the parents leave the clinic with the information and reassurance they need," says Bronson. "Watching these parents succeed is a great feeling."

Mom showing off babyThe Bringing Baby Home clinic began in the fall of 2013, as part of the Building Healthy Families program. The clinic provides a place where new parents can get their baby weighed and measured, as well as get answers to their questions that often come up in the first few months of parenting. The clinic is the perfect complement to the parenting and breastfeeding classes offered through Building Healthy Families.

"We're there for the easy questions, and we're there for the hard questions," says Bronson.

In the last few years, the Williston area has seen a population increase due to activity of the oil industry. Many of the new parents are not from the area originally, or don't have family in the area. Sometimes parents come into the Bringing Baby Home clinic and they aren't sure if their newborn needs to be seen by a physician. Maybe the infant has been coughing or isn't gaining weight like they should be. That's where Building Healthy Families comes in.

"You need a support network when you have a baby," says Bronson. "We're their extended family and personal network. It makes a big difference to know you have somewhere to call when you have a question about your new baby. Since we're located within the hospital, we can help them be seen by a provider right away. Sometimes it's as simple as walking across the hallway."

Building Healthy Families staff photo The Building Healthy Families program provides education resources to new parents. There are classes on everything from childbirth to breastfeeding to car seat safety. Bronson coordinates the classes through CHI St. Alexius Health in Williston.

One program participant says, "It's difficult to put into words how much my family has benefited from the programs offered. The expanse of information available out there to new parents is overwhelming with all the brochures, articles, magazines, social media, and advice from everyone. It's encouraging to hear consistent and unbiased information from the experts at the Bringing Baby Home clinic and at Building Healthy Families parenting classes."

Nurse measuring babies headThis past May, Building Healthy Families was selected as the Outstanding Rural Health Program in North Dakota. Bronson accepted the award on behalf of the program at the 2016 Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health awards banquet in Grand Forks. The award is presented to a program that delivers services in innovative ways through collaborative partnerships to improve the access and quality of care to rural North Dakota residents.

"We knew the work we were doing was important, and it was an honor to be recognized for it," says Bronson. "The program is successful and will continue to be because of the support it has from the community and the collaboration between Upper Missouri District Health Unit and CHI St. Alexius."

Nikki Krueger Nikki Krueger is the Director of Communications at the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). Prior to her position at the EERC, she served as Communication Coordinator at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota's School of Medicine & Health Sciences.