The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) has received a $500,000 gift from Mary Catherine Bunting, MS ’72, CRNP, RN. The donation will continue the work of UMSON’s Community and Public Health Environmental Initiative (CPHEI) to provide health oversight for children and families served by Baltimore City Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (HS) centers.
Established in early 2016 with a $750,000 gift from Bunting, CPHEI is a collaborative effort with the Maryland Family Network to improve overall health and environmental health for EHS and HS center children from birth until age 5 through programs that support their mental, social, and emotional development. CPHEI delivers health services to seven of eight EHS centers and seven of 47 HS centers; to date, these efforts have benefited 2,675 children and their families. Students and faculty from UMSON’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and RN-to-BSN programs, entry-into-nursing Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) master’s option, Community/Public Health Nursing master’s specialty, and Doctor of Nursing Practice specialties participate in CPHEI as part of the school’s ongoing service learning commitment.
The latest funding will support CPHEI’s continued efforts, which include UMSON students and faculty reviewing more than 1,000 child health records and identifying children with chronic health conditions and those behind on preventative care required under Maryland’s Medicaid program. They also have provided direct care services — including health screenings, hearing and vision screenings, and blood pressure and body mass index checks — and home visits for children with chronic conditions such as asthma and for pregnant women and new mothers. They have offered 113 educational classes to parents, more than 60 classes to EHS and HS staff, and 24 prenatal classes to members of the community. In addition, they have taught parents and staff how to access children’s patient portals to obtain health records.
Funding also will support CPHEI’s efforts to continue enabling EHS and HS centers to become Eco-Healthy Child Care-certified. Since 2016, with the help of CPHEI, all eight EHS and 18 HS centers have become Eco-Healthy Child Care-certified by eliminating environmental health hazards in or around the facilities and pursuing free or low-cost environmentally healthy best practices.
“CPHEI has brought much needed nursing services and environmental health oversight to a highly vulnerable population,” said Laura Allen, MA, MS, RN, CPHEI program director. “If we weren’t there, there wouldn’t be as strong an emphasis on health, well-being, and how they relate to education. These families would be missing out on health screenings, health education, and general health literacy.”
Over the next five years, CPHEI looks forward to helping all 47 of Baltimore’s HS centers become Eco-Healthy Child Care-certified and to continuing its work of providing nursing services in EHS and HS centers. The initiative plans to engage in more special projects, such as the community garden at Waverly EHS, and to advocate for children’s health at the legislative level. CPHEI also will continue to disseminate its work to other professionals at state and national conferences and to form partnerships with organizations that support children’s environmental health.
“We are thrilled to receive this additional contribution from Ms. Bunting for our Community and Public Health Environmental Initiative,” said UMSON Dean Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “As we seek to build a culture of health that can benefit all Marylanders, it is essential that we seize the opportunity to protect the very youngest children from the environmental hazards that can have a devastating impact on their lives. The health services and preventative care delivered under this program improves the futures of these children and their families and is work that could not be done without this support.”