June 2013

SJCH in Albuquerque Manages the Health of a Precious Population

As health care transitions to new methods of care delivery, CHI's St. Joseph Community Health (SJCH), Albuquerque, NM, has been practicing primary prevention and population health management since May 2010. SJCH manages the health of first-born children from pregnancy to age three, helping them avoid unplanned doctor visits and trips to the emergency room. 

“New Mexico ranks 49th among the states in children’s well-being,” said Allen Sànchez, president and CEO of SJCH. “Research shows that experiences in early childhood determine whether a developing brain will be a good foundation for future learning, behavior and health. We help first-time parents give their children the positive experiences and environment they need to reach kindergarten with the health and family capacity necessary to support learning.” 

SJCH reaches out to first-time parents who face problems such as poverty and lack of access to basic resources. Community partners include the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the New Mexico School Boards Association, the University of New Mexico and more. “We need all of our partners because this is the largest, most comprehensive program for early childhood and family development in our state,” said Sànchez.

The program has three components: 

Home Visiting establishes a relationship with each client family. Trained home visitors identify needs and challenges and educate parents in how to provide a stable home environment. “This primary prevention approach invests in early childhood to avoid the trauma and costs associated with adult health problems,” said Sànchez.

Enhanced Referral Services connect families with resources that can help them overcome their problems and increase their capacity to cope with stress.

Advocacy with community and government agencies help establish new or expanded services that families need.

Future plans include increased emphasis on prenatal care to prevent neonatal complications and prolonged hospital stays for newborns. 

“The rapid development of a child’s brain in the first three years cannot be reversed or replicated,” said Sànchez. “When parents surround their babies with supportive care, it sets the foundation for a healthy, happy life. New Mexico will benefit from this work for generations to come.”