Sarah Bilyj, Supervisor of Nurse-Family Partnership of Hudson and Union Counties presents at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

United Way Strategic Partners Improves Nurse Home Visiting Services and Cultural Competency in Public Health Nursing
The cutting-edge abstract titled: “Enhancing Cultural Competency and Responsiveness in Public Health Nursing,” by Sarah Bilyj, BSN, RN, CLC, supervisor of the Nurse-Family Partnership of Hudson and Union Counties (NFP), was selected for a poster presentation at the 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Public Health Association, this past November.  The work of Bilyj and her team, at The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey (The Partnership), follows a tradition of several years of attending and presenting at APHA. This year, four public health professionals of The Partnership presented at APHA on topics, such as, immunizations, cultural competency and health disparities. Ilise Zimmerman, Executive Director of The Partnership, was one of the few individuals invited to provide an oral presentation on the topic of reducing racial disparities in health. According to Zimmerman, “The APHA provides both the Partnership and UWGUC with a national audience to share our collaborative successes.”
NFP is an evidence-based home visitation program locally administered by The Partnership, which has been linked to United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC) since 2012. This collaborative resulted in a pro-active initiative that identifies young at-risk first-time moms and connects them to pre-natal care.
The objective of the initiative is to enroll at-risk moms in a nurse home visitation program designed to improve the health of women and children. NFP is a free and voluntary program, partnering the mother-to-be with a trained registered nurse who begins making home visits before the mother’s third trimester.  These scheduled visits continue up until the child turns two years old.  NFP provides the care and support the client needs to have a healthy pregnancy, develop competent skills to care for their child and become economically self-sufficient.
Bilyj’s poster presentation illustrated the process implemented to improve the cultural competency and responsiveness of the NFP nurse home visitors (NHVs). The training the NHVs received, from The Partnership, was based on the Culturally Competent Care module, by the March of Dimes. The module adapted for the NHVs, included their input specific to the needs of their clients.  In addition, a cultural responsiveness form was developed as a tool for the NHVs to utilize during home visits.
This process is considered unique among peer sites, and the culturally responsiveness form that assesses the client’s pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding preferences, including demographic information, was shared with other NFP sites in New Jersey for replication. The form has since been incorporated as a routine assessment tool in the NFP Hudson and Union programs. The tool continues to enhance the NHVs cultural competency to help them respond to the individual needs of each client. This process can be replicated for use in other public health care settings serving diverse populations.
“Every woman has the right to have her cultural beliefs, values and practices acknowledged and incorporated into her health care. This process has improved our cultural assessment and responsiveness to individualize each client’s plan of care,” said Bilyj. Nearly 13,000 people attended the APHA conference this year. The following Partnership staff contributed to the poster presentation: Liliana Pinete, MD, MPH, Partnership’s Chief Operating Officer; Phoebe Lithgow, BSN, RN, CLC, Nurse Home Visitor; Veronica Garces, BSN, RN, CBC, Nurse Home Visitor; Amber Rabines, CNM, RN, CBC, Nurse Home Visitor, Sarah Muller-Robbins, BSN, RN, MPH, IBCLC, and Claudia Uhl, RN.
Bilyj is a registered nurse with over nine years of experience.  Bilyj has been with the NFP for six years and a NFP supervisor for four years. As a supervisor, she is directly involved and works on committees that plan continuing education for staff, as well as policy development to improve services to the community.  She saw the need to improve best practices to provide cultural competency to the clients served. She has worked in many fields of nursing, but her passion is working as a public health nurse with the NFP and providing support for first-time, at-risk mothers and their families. “It is very rewarding to be able to develop long term relationships with the clients and provide the support they need to deliver healthy babies, become confident parents, and help them to prepare for a successful future for themselves and their children,” states Bilyj. As a supervisor, one of Bilyj’s important roles is educating and training her staff in cultural competency so they can provide their clients with culturally sensitive and appropriate care.