Growth and Nutrition: Grow Clinics

Growth and Nutrition: Grow Clinics

Community Nutrition Partner Spotlight: The Growth and Nutrition Program

Massachusetts’ Growth and Nutrition Program (GNP), administered through the Nutrition Division at DPH, provides specialized nutritional, medical, and behavioral therapy to eligible children to promote proper health, growth and development.   GNP services are available to children, through six years of age, who live in Massachusetts, and who are experiencing delayed or slowed growth, also referred to as Failure to Thrive. Referrals to the GNP may be completed by primary care providers, hospitals, and/or community-based agencies including Early Intervention, and Early/Head Start Programs and, of course, WIC. Currently, the GNP serves approximately 1,100 infants and children throughout the Commonwealth.

The Growth and Nutrition Team is made up of a wide variety of professional staff, including physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, dietitians, occupational therapist and speech therapists. Families can receive a wide variety of services through the GNP, such as clinic visits, feeding groups and home visits. The GNP is built on a family-centered model of care; input from family members is an important part of the evaluation and treatment of a child’s growth concerns.

This fall has been an exciting time for the GNP as the Program began a new contract cycle on October 1st; GNP locations in FY16 include Boston Children’s Hospital (with a satellite site in Lawrence), Boston Medical Center (with a satellite site in Brockton and Waltham), Lowell General Hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester (with a new satellite site planned for Leominster), and a brand new program based at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield (with plans to expand to Great Barrington).

One area of focus for the upcoming year will be an increased focus on collaboration between WIC and the GNP. Working together, staff can ensure that shared families receive consistent and supportive nutrition care and that unnecessary duplication of nutrition services can be avoided. The Lowell WIC Program and the Lowell General Hospital at Saints Campus GNP have already built an excellent model for collaboration; the nutritionists from each program maintain a list of shared patients to track enrollments and discharges, food prescriptions, nutrition care plans, and other relevant information. Mutual clients/participants benefit from this collaboration because they are ensured the correct food package (which may include reduced juice quantities), consistent nutrition messaging, and reinforcement of WIC participation for good health up to age five. Both programs benefit from efforts to help the family secure appropriate services, such as Early/Head Start, SNAP, emergency food resources, and Early Intervention services, as appropriate. It’s a win-win for all involved!

Children’s Hospital has developed a short video that highlights their GNP services (www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/growth-and-nutrition-program). Even though each clinic operates uniquely, this clip provides staff with a great overview of the GNP and will help them make an appropriate referral, when needed. Why not incorporate this into a staff meeting for all to view? Julie would love to hear your comments or questions. She can be reached at 617-624-6140 or \julie.schaeffer@state.ma.us.

To find specific contacts, please visit the following links: