Local News

Neighborhood Nurses Making A Difference In Durham

Posted April 15, 2001 6:58 a.m. EDT

— There are some neighborhoods in Durham that are hazardous to a baby's health. According to the Health Department, in some areas 16 out of every 1,000 babies will die soon after they are born. There is a new program that is trying to lower that statistic by introducing nurses who go door-to-door to see the patients.

Ann Milligan sees an average of 35 patients a day. In the Fayetteville Street community, her official title is neighborhood nurse, but to the people who live there, she is much more.

"I love Miss Ann. She's a very sweet lady. If you need a friend, go to Miss Anne," says one resident.

One of Milligan's priorities is helping mothers deliver healthy babies. She goes to their homes and gets the residents involved in activities, and teaches them how to take care of themselves while pregnant.

A few miles away, Kerry Smith walks a similar journey in Few Gardens. Smith says her biggest challenge is making sure people get the care they need.

"I don't think people on the outside appreciate how difficult it is if you have several children and no telephone and no transportation and you're struggling to survive, or how difficult it is just to keep a routine appointment," says Smith.

As neighborhood nurses, Milligan and Smith deal with every imaginable health care problem from diabetes to AIDS. They are also laying the groundwork to prevent future illnesses through prevention and education.

For Milligan, persistence is her prescription for success.

"I do feel like I've made a difference," she says.

The neighborhood nurse program started about a year and a half ago. It gets funding from Durham County, the state and the federal government.