For a single mother expecting her second child, knowing how to best prepare for all the changes that come along with a new baby isn’t easy. And that’s exactly the position Tara found herself in earlier this year.
Thankfully, she found help from a new friend named Ash.
Ash Martinez’s work with HopeSparks, a Pierce County area behavioral health care and family services provider, includes her role as a community care coordinator for Elevate Health’s Pathways Community HUB. She was able to meet with Tara twice a month to help her through her pregnancy and actively maneuver through obstacles that could get in the way of Tara creating a healthy life for both herself and her new baby girl.
The Pathways program identifies 20 different “core pathways” to help Pierce County residents avoid risk factors that could be detrimental to their health and supports clients throughout their journey through the process. These 20 pathways include adult education, family planning, health insurance, housing, immunizations, social service referral, among other items that all contribute to whole-person health. For Tara, these pathways were tailored to her pregnancy but nevertheless focused on her overall health, not just prenatal care.
By the time Tara gave birth to a healthy girl, she and Ash had established a close bond, which helped Tara buy into the Pathways process. At first, though — after her DSHS case officer directed her to Pathways — she was hesitant and unsure how the program would work. Tara was already struggling as a single mother when she learned she’d be expecting a second child and knew the challenges ahead were significant. Soon, she let her guard down and embraced the ways in which Pathways could help.
“Don’t get me wrong, being a single mother is hard, but having Ash on my side was a stress reliever,” says Tara. “When it comes to my kids and when it comes to my baby, I can talk to Ash.”
Through their meetings, Ash was able to remind Tara of her doctor appointments and other obligations, like deadlines for child care, while the two worked hard to find Tara safe and stable housing before her baby arrived. Ash also helped Tara learn about the resources available to her in Pierce County that Tara wasn’t yet aware of, including food banks that supplied diapers and a furniture bank to furnish her new home. They were also able to get Tara into a therapist who fit her specific needs and schedule.
“It’s important for them to know that I’m here and that I care. This isn’t just a job for me,” says Ash.
Pathways’ community care coordinators work also work with their clients through the issues of the pregnancy itself. When Tara showed signs of swelling during the pregnancy, Ash helped Tara learn about the risks surrounding pre-term labor, so she’d could successfully navigate the issues that could arise. Thankfully, Tara remained healthy throughout the pregnancy.
“We’re proud to say that she didn’t deliver early and had a healthy baby,” says Ash.
And when Tara told Ash that the stress of the pregnancy and life in general was causing her to be frequently angry, they worked through ways she could manage that anger. Ash shared relaxation tips that proved effective for Tara, like taking a walk or reading a book to her young child.
Tara says that she has mentioned Elevate Health’s Pathways Community HUB to a number of friends and family members and would recommend it to anyone in need of support during their pregnancy. For her, Pathways was a support system and a plan for a healthier life going forward for both herself and her young family.
“I am not just a client. I am more than a client. This program is a family. This program is for women like me and it is only going to help if you let it help you,” Tara says.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the Pathways Community HUB, email PathwaysHUB@elevatehealth.org for more information or visit elevatehealth.org.