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Maternity, Prenatal, Prenatal quality of care, Public health, Public health nursing



  1. Corrarino, Jane E. MS, RN
  2. Moos, Merry-K. MPH, RN, FNP, FAAN


Every locale in the United States is covered by a public health entity, generally known as the local health department, which is an arm of local, state, and federal governments, and is designed to protect, promote, and preserve the health of the population. To meet these responsibilities, health departments often become providers of personal health-care services, including prenatal care. The common assumption that these publicly funded prenatal services are in some way inferior to privately secured care is unfounded. Not only do local health department clinics provide quality care, they also extend the care to address social, nutritional, and psychologic risks; these non-medical interventions are likely to benefit those at greatest risk for prematurity and other poor pregnancy outcomes. Current budget constraints in many locales are putting these services at risk; it is essential that nurses understand the importance of advocating for the continuation of women's healthcare services in local health departments.