Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing faculty members Elizabeth Jordan, DNSc, RNC and Shirley Van Zandt, MS, MPH, RN, CRNP have been named The Daily Record 2009 Health Care Heroes in the category of Community Outreach for their Birth Companions program.
Since 1997, specially trained Hopkins nursing students have provided free doula care including education, prenatal visits, as well as massages and breathing exercises during labor to poor women in the greater Baltimore area. The advocacy, education, and support services the program provides to underserved pregnant women has earned the Birth Companions program national recognition, including being named a Monroe Trout Premier Cares Award finalist.
According to Jordan, expectant mothers working with birth companions "are less likely to have pre-term or low-birth weight newborns and more likely to see improved health care for themselves and their infants. Our students do a lot to improve the health of women and infants in Baltimore."
While addressing diverse lifestyles, health needs, and health care preferences among different ethnic populations, birth companion students learn to provide culturally sensitive care. They partner with the mothers before birth, throughout labor, and after birth with emotional, informational, and physical support. "Students learn so much about what it's like to work in the community with very diverse clients. The cultural competency skills acquired in this program will benefit all their future patients," says VanZandt.
The annual Health Care Heroes program salutes local unsung heroes in six categories: Advancements in Health Care, Community Outreach, Volunteer, Physician Hero, Nurse Hero, and Health Care Professional Hero. Previous winners from JHUSON include: 2007 Nurse Hero Lori Edwards; 2006 Nurse Heroes Cynda Rushton and Dan Sheridan; 2005 Nurse Heroes Jacquelyn Campbell, Phyllis Sharps, Benita Walton-Moss; 2005 Volunteer Hero Beth Sloand (top winner); and 2004 Nurse Heroes Carmalyn Dorsey and Marion D'Lugoff.