Nurses band together to support victims of domestic violence
TEAM: Women’s and Infant’s Cluster Council
WINNER: Best Outreach
SUBMITTED BY: Marybeth Lahey, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nursing clinical director, women’s and infants services
The Women’s and Infant’s Cluster Council at Einstein Medical Center consists of five staff registered nurses working in Labor and Delivery, the Mother Baby Units and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Their passion in providing compassionate nursing care is palpable, as is their commitment to honor and follow our practice model of nursing as caring science.
The birth of a baby is a wonderful but stressful time under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, we have a population of mothers who are victims of domestic violence and who fear going home. They often do not share this information while hospitalized.
Because our patient population can be at a higher risk for domestic violence, our team of council members brought this issue forward at a cluster meeting and asked for staff feedback across the division. Staff members unanimously made a decision to address the issue as a division-wide community outreach project. The cluster members reached out to a local domestic violence shelter and asked them to present with information about the depth of the social issue, as well as items mothers and infants may need when they make the potential lifesaving decision to leave their home.
The information the Women’s and Infants Cluster Council received was devastating, and it outlined the critical need to establish an outreach program in our immediate community. To respond to this community need, the division-wide cluster council engaged all staff members across the divisions to determine a schedule for donation of supplies and reviewed the amount needed based on the shelter’s recommendations. The council also marketed this outreach drive to disciplines outside of nursing, which created a collaborative sense of supporting our patients in a meaningful way.
Often, mothers take their children out of their home at a critical and violent time. As a result, they only have the clothes on their back. They typically do not have the items necessary to provide for the basic needs of children. The cluster council collected items to meet the basic needs of mothers and infants-for example, soap, diapers, infant cloths, toothbrushes and toothpaste. In addition to the basic necessities, the cluster council recognized that women in these situations suffer from low self-esteem. Our team decided to also consider items to make moms feel better about themselves. Items collected for this part of the project include perfume and nail polish.
Currently the support of the Domestic Violence Shelter includes the donations of 50 gift bags filled with items delivered twice a year at Christmas and Mother’s Day. Because of the issues surrounding safety of mothers and infants and the importance of anonymity at an incredibly vulnerable time, we are not permitted to follow up with mothers who have received our donations. The shelter will only allow two to three cluster members to drop off the items. To date, our team has provided more than 300 donation bags and supported community outreach to one of the most vulnerable populations in our community.
The staff nurses on cluster council organized this project, recognized its worth, engaged all staff in donations and lead the team in sustaining this valuable initiative. This team has chosen to work with this patient population and spearheaded this outreach project because they are passionate about helping these patients in the acute care setting and have found a way to support them after they leave the hospital.