Mt. Ascutney Hospital gets grant to help focus on families

WINDSOR, Vt. (WCAX) Being a parent is not the easiest thing in the world but it's also incredibly rewarding.

"It's perpetual motion. Yeah, we are always moving but it's great, they are great together," said Peter Bianchi of New London.

And for Bianchi, it goes without saying that making sure his kids stay healthy is a top priority.

"There is so much that, I like to think I know some things," he said.

Mount Ascutney Hospital's Family Wellness Program helps fill in the gaps.

"Wellness is based in a family," said Jill Lord, the hospital's community health director.

The program, which was modeled after UVM's family-based approach, provides a wellness coach to young families. The coach helps walk parents through life's day to day issues.

"How's sleeping going? How is nutrition? Are there things that can help your child grow into a healthy adult?" Lord explained.

If a coach notices a red flag, the family is referred to a therapist.

Recently, the hospital was awarded a 2019 Couch Family Foundation Community Grant to support the program.

"Research has shown with adverse childhood experiences that there is significant trauma resulting in disease, substance misuse and even cancer," Lord said.

Officials say the family wellness program helps prevent those long-term health risks by focusing on wellness very early on, something this dad appreciates.

"Have someone there to check us out and support us, and keep these two guys healthy," Bianchi said.

The grant helps fund the program for the next three years but officials say its effects can stick with a family for a lifetime and they say it's a model that could-- and should-- be used for rural health care across the region.