Mollie Harris, violence prevention coordinator at Saint Joseph London, plays a unique role in the health care industry and in her community.
“Most people think of a hospital as a place where you get your medical needs met,” Mollie says. “But we know social determinants can cause health problems later on in life, so we feel our positions are preventative. The overall goal of our program is to prevent abuse and neglect of children, so it’s interesting working in the health care field. I love it.”
Mollie acts as a bridge, connecting the community to the hospital through evidence-based classes for parents and caregivers of children under the age of 4. The courses, Mollie says, focus on empathy, avoiding some inappropriate expectations of children and discipline.
“What I like to tell our parents [who say] ‘I’m a parent. I don’t need parenting education.’ is our education course takes us back to basics of parenting and allows you to forget all of the negative parenting you’ve learned and pass down the good things you’ve learned to your children.”
Because of COVID-19, classes moved to a digital platform instead of traditional group sessions and home visits for families who don’t have transportation to the hospital.
“I love to do home visits,” Mollie says. “I love to sit down with someone in their environment to capture a true picture of them in their setting. I was worried about Zoom in the beginning, but our participants are loving it so far. It’s made it convenient for families; it has eliminated a transportation barrier.”
As a Laurel County native, Mollie says serving her community gives her pride in her job.
“Some families do a complete 360,” Mollie says. “If we’re providing good education and we’re preventing abuse, then it’s making the community better for my children and my family for them to grow into.”
Mollie’s goal to improve her community one family at a time also encompasses her volunteer work with the Safe Child Coalition, a group of professionals whose goal is to raise awareness and promote prevention of child abuse in the community.
Mollie says Saint Joseph London has hosted an Easter egg hunt for the community the last two years, but because of COVID-19 this year, they partnered with state social workers to have the Easter bunny surprise 68 families with Easter baskets.
“It did our hearts well to have that day of giving,” Mollie says.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.