When Brizeiry “Brizy” Naranjo found herself pregnant her senior year of high school, a counselor recommended she contact Mesa’s Banner Desert Medical Center. A program there would provide home visits to help Naranjo and her boyfriend as they became parents.
Naranjo also learned about TOPS (Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services), which offers labor and delivery classes, support groups, classes and counseling.
Through adult direction, she found affordable medical care for her and her daughter. With support, she finished her high school diploma through online courses and graduated on time with her class — two months after the birth of her now 5-month-old daughter.
“I didn’t know anywhere to go. Everybody around me kept saying there’s no resources for teenagers,” she said.
That’s why program directors, nurses and a physician at Banner created PATH — Pregnancy and Teen Health — which officially launched Monday as a one-stop spot for pregnant teens to learn about all the services available as they navigate the months, and years, ahead of them.
For Naranjo, that first visit made a difference, Naranjo said.
“A lot of my friends who got pregnant before me didn’t have childbirth classes or parenting class,” she said. “They didn’t know about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) or shaken baby syndrome that could happen to your kids. I was
glad I found the program, now I don’t do things with my
baby maybe I would have done.”
During their first visit to PATH, teens can receive pregnancy confirmation and help accessing medical insurance information, sign up for childbirth education classes, and leave with their first prenatal appointment scheduled, said Dr. Robert Grayson of Southwest Women’s Care, which is collaborating with the hospital in this effort.
Suzanne Clinton, a registered nurse at Banner Desert and the women and infant services educator, said the ease of the program will not only help the moms, but the babies.
“We see a lot of teens coming through our classes and obviously delivering here. We want to offer more support early on in their pregnancy rather than later, which is common,” she said.
Goldie LaPorte, senior manager of the child development department at Cardon Children’s Hospital, a sister facility located next to Banner Desert, said with the home visitation program that Naranjo participates in, pregnant teens and new moms receive support through the child’s first three years with monthly visits. It is funded by the First Things First program approved by voters.
PATH will be open 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in the triage area of Banner Desert.
If there is more need, the center will expand hours.
To learn more, call (480) 412-PATH.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Reese, East Valley Tribune