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HEALTH Recognizes the Importance of Public Health Nursing

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) celebrates National Nurses' Week (May 6-12) by recognizing the important role of all nurses, including public health nurses, in delivering quality healthcare to Rhode Islanders. Public health nurses work in communities to improve health and safety, and to provide education that helps people be healthier. They may also provide direct services, such as screening and preventive care, to people without access to healthcare.

"Nurses perform important work every day in community settings across Rhode Island," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "Their dedicated efforts help us promote public health every week of the year, and I thank all of Rhode Island's nurses for doing what they do."

HEALTH supports public health nursing through a variety of programs. For more than 20 years, nurses have partnered with social workers and community health workers in HEALTH's First Connections home visiting program to conduct free, voluntary, confidential home visits for pregnant women and families with young children. In 2011, First Connections visited about 3,500 children and their families.

In 2011, HEALTH received a federal grant to support evidence-based maternal and child home visiting. Nurses are an integral part of the Nurse-Family Partnership® model of home visiting, which, when fully implemented in 2012, will serve 225 families in Central Falls, Newport, Providence, Pawtucket, West Warwick and Woonsocket. This free, voluntary, confidential program pairs expectant first-time mothers with a registered nurse. The nurse provides intensive home visiting services to the mother and her child until the child's second birthday. Nationally, Nurse-Family Partnership has demonstrated improvements in prenatal health, child health, pregnancy spacing and economic self-sufficiency among families.

Anyone can refer a pregnant woman or family to a home visiting program. For more information, visit

National Nurses' Week is celebrated annually from May 6 to May 12, the birthday of modern nursing founder Florence Nightingale.

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