Laura Shulman Cordeira
The power of human connection is a driving force for Laura Shulman Cordeira, MPH, Director of Community Health and Wellness at RVNAhealth. Cordeira, who made a career supporting people at challenging times in their lives through community health programming, is applying her expertise and compassion in a leadership role within the growing organization. RVNAhealth’s celebrated reputation was appealing to Cordeira who has held healthcare leadership roles in New York, Boston, Danbury and now Ridgefield in diverse fields such as HIV, international health, trauma, and end-of-life care.
As Director of Community Health and Wellness, Cordeira and her team facilitate community education, health promotion and disease prevention and aim to expand the agency’s existing programming to especially vulnerable neighbors, friends, and communities. She and her team work closely with colleagues, both inside the nonprofit and externally, to evaluate complex healthcare issues and identify innovative solutions. “If 2020 has reminded us of anything, it is that there are huge healthcare inequalities in our society,” noted Cordeira. “It is a big reason I went into public health and I hope to provide resources, programming and support to people in our communities who need it most.”
It’s in the genes.
That’s the explanation offered by Melissa Smith, RN, BSN, the Nurse Supervisor for the Nurse-Family Partnership at RVNAhealth, of her lifelong devotion to mothers and babies. “If there’s a baby in the room, I just have to hold it. I remember being seven years old and having the same response, so maybe it is just genetic,” she joked.
As the leader of the Nurse-Family Partnership at RVNAhealth, which provides a dedicated nurse for low-income first-time mothers until their child reaches age two, Smith is excited to be broadening the nonprofit’s spectrum of care with a particularly vulnerable population. Many of the mothers served by the Nurse-Family Partnership are young and most have limited resources and support, a framework which their dedicated nurse helps build. “When a baby is born, so is a mother,” Smith noted of the transformation that happens when a woman becomes a mother, particularly for the first time.
Melissa Smith and Luna
Everyone needs help at some point in their lives.
For Kayla Murphy, R.N., with RVNAhealth Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a no-cost program that pairs low-income expectant moms with a dedicated nurse until their child reaches age two, the sentiment is personal. Murphy’s own mother participated in a program like NFP as a single, homeless, teen mom raising her children alone and Murphy attributes her family’s success to the clinical, social, and emotional support that a program like NFP provided at that time. She also believes the skills learned are still at work in her own life, “I am living proof that these programs work,” she said.
Murphy joined RVNAhealth as an NFP Nurse Home Visitor in July 2020, during the height of COVID-19 restrictions, so it has been challenging to complete the education and developmental screenings for first-time moms because they are done virtually, but the work she is doing validated her interest in pediatric nursing long term. “There is nothing better than watching a child grow and flourish. Every child deserves the best chance,” she said.