Healthy Beginnings Plus Celebrates 10 Years of Positive Prenatal Experiences

CLEARFIELD – Healthy Beginnings Plus, a program offered by Clearfield Hospital, is celebrating 10 years of helping expectant mothers give their babies the best start in life.

The program helps low-income pregnant women, eligible for medical assistance, receive medical care, education and support during and after pregnancy. Studies show that women who receive proper medical attention during pregnancy reduce the risk of premature birth and have stronger, healthier babies.

Healthy Beginnings Plus got its start at Clearfield Hospital in April 1998. Since that time, the staff has cared for 892 mothers and their babies.

“It’s a pleasure to be a part of Healthy Beginnings at Clearfield Hospital. The program is a great asset to women of Clearfield County and their babies,” stated Thomas A. Carnevale, M.D., chief of obstetrics.

The Healthy Beginnings team is made up of physicians, nurses, administrative staff, social workers and a dietitian who are committed to providing personalized, high quality prenatal and postpartum health care.

Those instrumental in establishing the program at Clearfield Hospital were Carnevale; care coordinators Marsha Mills, registered nurse-certified, and Tammy Norman, RN; Marie Ayres, who also helped set up the office and takes care of billing; Director of Education Catherine Civiello, Ph.D., RN; and the late B. Ellen “Bert” Armstrong, RN, obstetrics unit manager.

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Deborah DeMuro has been with the Healthy Beginnings for 10 years. Barbara Westover, RN, certified lactation counselor, has been with the program for eight years, while licensed practical nurses Barbara Carfley and Susan Mason have cared for Healthy Beginnings clients for four and three years, respectively.

“The nurses are first-class and truly dedicated to the patients,” Carnevale noted.

Dr. Allan Ho, OB/GYN, who joined the hospital in January, rounds out the team. Education is the cornerstone of the program, Carnevale said.

“Helping mothers, especially first-time mothers, understand the importance of issues like good nutrition, healthy behaviors, regular checkups and what to expect during and after pregnancy are crucial for a positive birth experience,” he explained.

Services available through Healthy Beginnings Plus are:
• Basic obstetrics service. Initial visits, routine office visits throughout pregnancy, delivery and postpartum follow-up care.
• High-risk obstetrics and genetic risk identification services. Screening for high risk factors withreferrals made to appropriate specialists if needed.
• Prenatal and childbirth education. Clearfield Hospital offers prenatal education as part of its childbirth preparation classes. Topics discussed include labor and delivery, newborn care, CPR review, infant safety issues, parenting tips and how to recognize pregnancy complications. Westover, certified lactation counselor, offers assistance with breastfeeding education.
• Dietary counseling. Registered dietitian Bernie Clark provides this service in the clinic.
• Smoking cessation/substance abuse identification/referral: These issues are addressed during initial and clinic visits and referrals made to local services if indicated. Smoking cessation counselors are present during each clinic visit.
• Parenting education program. In addition to parenting education in the childbirth program, Healthy Beginnings Plus offers parenting sessions in the clinic, facilitated by social worker Pam Shurer. Another social worker, Kathy Bell, handles inpatient and home visits as needed.

Norman said the continuity of care provided is important for patients’ physical health and their peace of mind.

“In addition to working for Healthy Beginnings Plus, our staff also works in obstetrics and the nursery, so patients see familiar faces throughout their care. We know them and they know us, so they feel more comfortable,” Norman said.

Healthy Beginnings Plus is located in the Medical Arts Building, Suite 220, Clearfield Hospital. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Emergencies after hours and on weekends are handled by the Obstetrics Department.

To learn more about the program, please contact the office at 814-768-2148.

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