Hi`ilei Perinatal Program
by Anne E. O’Malley
Sammee Albano loves that she has the luxury of time in her job, spending 60 minutes or more with clients. She’s a self-employed RN, Certified Lactation Counselor and earns the moniker “Aunty Sammee” that’s assigned to her by about 450 persons per year through the nonprofit Hi`ilei Kaua`i Perinatal program.
Hi`ilei — it means to carry, hold, tend to, nurture, and cherish a beloved child — started under the DOE umbrella a dozen years ago, although DOE is no longer involved, according to Albano, who spends time chasing grants to raise approximately $70,000 annually to fund the program.
“We provide first-time mothers with a wide variety of resources within their communities to help them have healthy babies,” Albano explains. “We receive referrals from health aides in high schools, OB clinics, public health nurses and from friends of former clients.”
Albano describes her work as “kind of like having a personal nurse for enhanced prenatal care. You go to your doctor and have appointments and they check your physical condition.
“And we offer education and support and referrals, for example, Ho`ola Lahui for smoking cessation, E Ala Hou for substance users, Easter Seal referrals for developmental delays and public health referrals for nursing follow-up care. We screen them for high risk behaviors and their medical history.
The most important part of her work? “Women doubt their ability for their bodies to birth naturally. I like to educate them that they are capable of doing this, and when they find out how capable they are, and breastfeed without any supplementation, they are very proud of what they have done.”
Hi`ilei Perinatal program is free, one-on-one “I meet my clients at the park, hospital cafeteria, or Jamba Juice, or I do home visits if people don’t have cars or access to transportation, and I also do home visits after baby is born. If mom thinks she doesn’t have enough milk, and thinks baby didn’t eat enough, I weigh the baby, she breastfeeds it, I weigh the baby again and see a 2 oz. gain, for example, and he mom can see how much baby is drinking.
The program doesn’t discriminate by income or wealth, according to Albano, but she says a lot of her clients exhibit risk factors, such as smoking, being single, having medical problems or low income.
Not surprisingly, Albano agrees with the subjects of other articles on birth and motherhood in this issue, saying, “Breastfeeding is good for baby and mom and could save billions if people exclusively breastfed.”
Albano offers free items to clients, such as thermometers and infant carriers, Jamba Juice gift cards, water bottles and free childbirth classes, depending on eligibility, plus hospital tours.
Call Albano at 808-652-7320 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.