(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

VICENZA, Italy – Army Community Service in Vicenza has been known to quickly adapt to the ever-changing needs of the military community, especially that of the United States Army Garrison Italy. During the initial COVID-19 pandemic, ACS was able to seamlessly transition from in-person to virtual appointments, and continue to provide services to the community in need.

Concerns from expecting military families were immediately brought up during the initial phase of the community lock down, especially as child-related services on the installation shut down operations due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, including the Department of Defense Education Activity Europe South.

Alleviating the uncertainties of medical care during and post pregnancy, including family and child care at the host nation hospitals, became one of the garrison’s top priorities. ACS New Parent Support Program team was tasked to devise a plan to continue to offer services to help and educate the community.

The NPSP nurses established a liaison program called OB Working Group. The goal was to streamline communications between expecting mothers, the on-post clinic, and host nation hospitals with NPSP-qualified nurses as liaisons. This initiative allowed the garrison to gather data regarding the experiences during and post-partum delivery, as well as prenatal care which military families were receiving. The data was utilized to improve the future of quality care during crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OB Working Group has continued and maintain open communication with families through personal calls and in-home or virtual home visits, during pregnancies and postpartum. The initiative allowed to build a trustworthy relationship with installation military families, host nation medical facilities, and ACS NPSP.

NPSP expanded their reach by providing educational services. Successful initiatives include the distribution of “Busy Bags” craft activities for small children, virtual Romp-N-Stomp playgroups, and telephone call-ins with families. In addition, NPSP actively engaged with the community through social media, online informational newsletter “The Buzz” and online educational segments for new families.

During the COVID-19 lock down, ACS took advantage to care of their very own: all NPSP staff members received certification as Lactation Counselors, previously an under-met need within the USAG Italy military community.

For more information about ACS and the NPSP, please visit https://italy.armymwr.com/programs/ederle-army-community-service-acs