Cleveland, OH,
09:17 AM

Nurse-Family Partnership Featured in Documentary

Above is a 12-minute excerpt from the documentary featuring MetroHealth's Maria Cody.

Right before Thanksgiving in 2018, a camera crew followed Maria Cody for three days to capture her work with MetroHealth's Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.

Maria, a MetroHealth nurse for more than six years, is featured in the documentary "The Antidote," which debuted in October. Through more than a dozen stories, the film aims to drive a national conversation about the roles of kindness, decency, compassion and respect in a democratic society.

MetroHealth's NFP program, which serves low-income women who are pregnant with their first child, is highlighted. Early in her pregnancy (before the 28th week) the mom-to-be is partnered with a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree who provides them with information on preventive care and connects them with local health and educational resources until the child's second birthday.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFP nurses have been conducting telehealth visits instead of regular home visits.

The filmmakers approached the national NFP office about being a part of the documentary. When someone asked Maria if she would represent the program, she didn't hesitate to say yes.

As the first nurse home visitor hired by MetroHealth's NFP program, Maria knows first-hand how crucial it is for these women to receive intensive support early on. At age 15, she gave birth to her first child. Other than an aunt who was with her in the hospital for the birth, Maria didn't have much family support.

"I had always been a good student, but I never thought about what I was going to do in life until I saw what those nurses did for me," she said.

After graduating from high school, Maria headed to Cuyahoga Community College where she took advantage of a scholarship to get her associate's degree in nursing. When her two oldest children became teenagers, Maria returned to school, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University.

"I always knew I wanted to do Labor and Delivery," she said. "I was focused on that career path, but I did a little bit of medical-surgical and telemetry nursing." An opportunity opened up in Labor and Delivery at MetroHealth. She applied and got the job.

After a year, Maria left to work at Huron Hospital. Six years later, in 2014, she returned to MetroHealth as a care coordinator. MetroHealth's Nurse-Family Partnership program launched in late 2016. The work was exactly what Maria wanted to do – "My favorite part of nursing is advocacy work" – but it still took her a few months to apply for what turned out to be her "perfect job."

When NFP received funding to expand to a second home visiting team, Maria was promoted to nurse supervisor for the new team. Since the retirement this summer of the first nurse supervisor, Maria has been supervising 16 nurses, each of whom is responsible for 25 to 30 first-time moms.

The extra responsibility hasn't slowed down Maria's desire for more professional growth. She is enrolled in an online master's degree program in nursing with a concentration in public health that she hopes to complete in 2022.

Maria and her three children, ages 13, 30 and 32, watched the documentary together before its official release. "They told me they were proud of me," she said. "All I could think of was, 'Wow.' I never thought I'd be here."

Since its implementation, MetroHealth's NFP program has been supported entirely by grants and philanthropy (including The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, George Gund Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, NFP National Service Office Incentive Fund, The Bruening Foundation, William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation and Epic) as well as public funds from the State of Ohio and First Year Cleveland.

But the need for financial support is constant. The program is at capacity.

"NFP offers to new mothers – women who have never had this experience before – a partner to help them through a transition that's the most important one in their lives," Maria said. "These women will impact a whole generation, and we're giving them the tools and support to do that successfully."

About Nurse-Family Partnership

Nurse-Family Partnership, which was established in 1996, operates in 41 states, including Ohio, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the program arrived at MetroHealth in 2016, more than 300 babies have been born. Around 400 pregnant women and new moms are currently enrolled. Sixty percent of the women in the program are ages 18-24.

Through regular home nurse visits, first-time moms receive information on preventive care (prenatal care, smoking cessation, future pregnancy planning, etc.) and also are connected with local health and educational resources. They also get information on improving their diets and reducing their use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal substances.

More than a dozen specially trained nurses check in regularly on first-time moms and mothers-to-be who live in the Cleveland neighborhoods at highest risk for preterm birth/infant mortality – Buckeye/Broadway, Central, Stockyards, Clark-Fulton, Ohio City, Tremont, Detroit-Shoreway, and Brooklyn Centre.

NFP nurses and social workers help parents access the health care they need to promote their baby's development and well-being, improve the economic self-sufficiency of the family by helping parents access educational and employment opportunities, and assist with planning future pregnancies.

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit