For my most recent Walk in the Shoes of a County Employee, I visited Jacquie Hermer, a Registered Nurse in Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Nurse Family Partnership Program (NFP).
The program pairs young, low-income, first-time moms with registered nurses from pregnancy through the critical first 24 months of a child’s life. That collaboration helps transform the lives of the mothers and their children, providing support and parenting guidance for a healthy pregnancy, and the best possible start in life for the baby.
This program aligns with two important areas of focus for me: Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) and Best Starts for Kids. Both will support greater equity in our county, so I was very excited to see the program’s work first-hand.
Our day started at Columbia City Center for Health, where I met with the clinic field staff and interpreters. This location is where Public Health – Seattle & King County works through a partnership with NeighborCare, and it seems to be going well, with customer-centered collaboration and processes.
The interpreting staff explained their work and how they deliver services to our clients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Many clients speak languages other than English at home. This reflects demographic changes happening across King County, where recent data shows nearly one in five residents speak languages other than English.
After meeting staff, we drove to Renton to visit an NFP client – a young mom of a three-week-old infant. On the way, Jacquie told me about her experience as a NFP nurse. Every day, she helps residents struggling with health disparities, and adverse childhood experiences. But those challenges also present an opportunity to talk with moms about resilience, how they can support infant health and development, about the benefits of early attachment between a baby and its parents, and about how institutions and systems of power influence the lives of residents. We also discussed our shared interest in Best Starts for Kids, and the impact additional funding will have on the Nurse Family Partnership program.
The last half hour of our visit was spent sitting with Jacquie’s client and her son as she shared her struggles in learning to bond with him while dealing with the physical and emotional tolls of childbirth. She also talked about her goals for her child and for herself over the next two years, and the lessons she is learning each day about her capacity and strengths as a mom. I appreciated her candor and was glad that we’ve been able to continue King County’s Nurse Family Partnership program to support the desire of this mom – and dozens like her – to give her child a great start in life, despite the challenges of their current situation.
Jacquie was a fantastic host, full of humor and insights about serving clients and the program she clearly believes in so much. We share a clear commitment to working towards greater equity in this county, and I walked away with an even greater appreciation for the dedication of our Public Health nurses to high-volume, community-based work that is changing lives every day.
I would like to thank Jacquie for sharing her knowledge, ideas, honesty, and strong advocacy for the Nurse Family Partnership program, in support of her clients.
If you are doing a job that you think I should experience as part of the Walk in the Shoes of a County Employee program, please submit an invitation. I look forward to new opportunities to see more of our diverse lines of business and to meet the valuable employees who serve the people of King County.
King County Executive