February 2010

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Dr. Barry receives the Jefferson County Public Health Champion Award.

Dr. Barry receives the Jefferson County Public Health Champion Award.

BrainWise Program founder Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry, PhD, RN, has been named a 2009 Public Health Champion of the Year by Jefferson County. Dr. Barry was chosen to receive the award for her work developing BrainWise, a curriculum that teaches decision making skills. Jefferson County public health nurses are using the program to improve the lives of some of the county’s most vulnerable populations.

In 2009, Jefferson County Department of Human Services contracted with Jefferson County Public Health to provide public health nursing services to their clients who are receiving TANF benefits or are involved with the Division of Children Youth and Families. Frequently, these services are provided to families in crisis with multiple children and complex health issues, including child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental and physical health problems. The clients often do not know how to utilize the resources available to them to become self sufficient.

According to Rebecca Persing, DNP, RN, the BrainWise curriculum is the foundation for nursing interventions provided by the Jefferson County Public Health Nurses/Human Services Collaboration. “BrainWise has enabled our Human Services clients to have both the belief and the skills they need to overcome the patterns of family functioning and environmental factors that led them to involvement with Human Services,” Persing said.

As the primary nursing intervention, BrainWise gives nurses tools to teach clients skills that will help them make better choices and decisions. Persing says the program “allows nurses to address multiple problems with clients of all ages simultaneously and provides a common language.” She notes that, “Clients readily relate to the curriculum’s lessons on the brain and appreciate its non-judgmental approach to help them overcome barriers to being self-sufficient.”

Jefferson County Public Health will honor its 2009 Public Health Champions of the Year at a luncheon and awards ceremony on April 7, 2010. Dr. Barry will join representatives from ten other agencies who will be recognized for their work improving the health of Jefferson County. The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners and Board of Health will present the awards.