As part of a new partnership between NMMC and the Family Resource Center, NMMC case managers like Scott Thrasher, from left, and Clarissa Hughes confer often with FRC field educators Claire Goodson and Stephanie Collier.

TUPELO • North Mississippi Medical Center is bringing the Family Resource Center into the hospital to better help patients outside its walls.

Through a new partnership, the Tupelo-based regional nonprofit agency has embedded two of its field educators in the Tupelo hospital. Claire Goodson and Stephanie Collier, who are also licensed social workers, are working with the hospital’s case managers to connect patients in need with Family Resource Center’s free programs and community resources.

“It’s synergy at its best,” said Ormella Cummings, NMMC chief strategy officer. “We can both do our jobs better because of this union.”

The Family Resource Center has a large geographic footprint across North Mississippi, which mirrors the hospital system’s service area. Its broad programing covers parenting classes, literacy programs, online high school access, job readiness training and car seat safety instruction. The center keeps a small food pantry and clothes closet. It also has strong partnerships with social service agencies and nonprofit organizations across the region.

“One of our agency’s strongest points is providing resources and connecting people to those who have the expertise they need. So many people cannot come to us or do not know to,” said Christi Webb, executive director of Family Resource Center/Families First of North Mississippi.

“Through this partnership, we can come to them.”

While people receive lifesaving care inside the hospital, what happens outside the hospital ultimately influences a person’s long term health far more than the clinical care they receive, Cummings said. The social detriments of health encompass socio-economic factors such as financial status, healthy habits, education, access to healthy food, housing, chronic stress, health literacy and family support networks.

Instead of giving patients a number to call for help, NMMC case managers are able to directly refer patients to the Family Resource educators. Collier and Goodson connect with the patients and their families in the hospital and access their needs.

“It really does eliminate a step,” Collier said.

A box of food or a safe place for a child to sleep can answer an immediate need and reduce the stress on a recently hospitalized parent. Goodson and Collier hope the relationships forged will open the door for the families to seek out other beneficial programs through the Family Resource Center.

“We rarely have a client that comes in and uses just one service,” Goodson said. “It just takes getting them in the door.

Since the partnership began in November, Goodson and Collier have been able to leverage both the center’s programs and community resources.

A patient’s child who was sleeping on the floor received a bed from the Beds for Kids program, where volunteers build beds and other groups donate mattresses and bedding. A pregnant patient received a free carseat through the Family Resource Center. Another patient’s young child could not read, and Family Resource Center was able to refer her to Regional Rehabilitation Center for testing.

An emergency department patient struggling with substance abuse was connected to the center’s addiction recovery program, which complements substance abuse treatment by helping individuals reintegrate with their families and the workforce.

NMMC and the Family Resource Center see tremendous opportunities for the new program.

“We see people when they’re in crisis, and NMMC sees people when they’re in crisis,” Webb said. “If we can plug in and provide help, hopefully we can keep them from coming back to the hospital.”

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