Chris Smith, M.D.
January 23, 2020
The Period of PURPLE crying…the period in the first few months of life when a baby may experience a Peak in crying, comes and goes Unexpectedly, they Resist soothing, have a Pain-like expression on their face, may be Long-Lasting, and usually in the Evening. The Period of PURPLE crying is important to the mission of The Parent Child Center of Tulsa because it represents the most common trigger for shaking a baby, a severe form of physical child abuse. Preventing such abuse, and establishing a healthy path for newborns in Tulsa County, is the work of the PCCT’s Nursing Services under the leadership and direction of Jenny Weber, R.N.
PCCT nursing services oversees two nationally recognized and evidence based programs; Bright Beginnings and Tulsa Family Connects. These programs are part of BEST, the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa, funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Bright Beginnings was established in 2013 and is present in all Tulsa hospitals where babies are born. Five registered nurses visit parents of newborns in the hospital to discuss the period of PURPLE crying as well as Talking is Teaching, a program that encourages parents to talk, read, and sing to their newborn as a way to begin their child’s learning and language development. Parents receive a toolkit that includes a children’s book, a music CD, a parent guide with developmental milestones, a bath towel, a t-shirt, and an educational DVD. In addition to education in the hospital, the program sponsors a Community Nurse Educator, Mildred Ramsey, who regularly carries her newborn baby doll with her to educate fathers in local barber shops, pregnant teens in area high schools, and other organizations who ask for more information on the period of PURPLE crying. Click Here for more information on Bright Beginnings.
Tulsa Family Connects is the newest nursing program begun in 2017. This program currently operates at Hillcrest Medical Center and is modeled after the Family Connects Durham program developed by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. Five registered nurses provide up to three home nurse visits to parents of newborns. Home visits allow continued emphasis of the Bright Beginning messages while offering more in depth assessment of the child and family physical and social needs. From these visits, the Tulsa Family Connects nurses are able to connect families to community resources, as well as provide summaries to both the mother’s Obstetrician and the baby’s Pediatrician or Family Physician. Families who participate receive a Quik Trip gift card, which has contributed to this program being accepted by over 70% of families to whom it is offered. This, along with the achievement of other high standards, recently resulted in Tulsa Family Connects receiving provisional accreditation with full accreditation expected later this year. Studies have shown that $1 invested in these home visits results in $3 saved through reduced infant emergency care. CLICK HERE for more information on Tulsa Family Connects.
In my regular interaction with the PCCT nursing team, I am amazed by their sense of mission and personal investment to educate and equip newborn parents and unite our community behind our efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. One example, among all the great work of the PCCT nurses, is the Tulsa Family Connects Community Advisory Board which began in April of 2019. This group is composed of over 20 community partner agencies who meet quarterly to discuss community support and resources available to families. Monica Rodriguez, R.N. B.S.N., is the Community Connection Manager responsible for community alignment who spends her time talking to partner agencies, organizing resources, and serving as a catalyst for communication. The Community Advisory Board serves as a clearing house of resources available to families and a source of collaboration, communication and education for partner agencies. At our most recent meeting in October, a helpful Holiday Resources list was given that identified community sources for food, gifts, and clothing available for the holidays. The group also listened to a presentation on the new public charge rule affecting a certain population of immigrants. This presentation better equipped agencies to accurately advise families on exempt services they might have avoided out of fear it might adversely affect their immigration status.
As you can see, the period of PURPLE crying is but one of the important messages and services provided by the PCCT nursing services team through Bright Beginnings and Tulsa Family Connects. For the future, the team hopes to expand Tulsa Family Connects to additional hospitals and plans to use home visits to focus on additional outcomes of post-partum depression and high blood pressure as well as safe sleep practices. Everyone who contributes and invests their time in the work of the Parent Child Center can feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that our nursing services team is making a difference in the future of the kids in Tulsa by helping equip parents with the resources necessary to make wise parenting choices.