Sharon Rohrbach experienced a nightmare and turned it into a marvelous dream.
As a critical care nurse in the 1980s, she personally witnessed babies dying — deaths that need not have happened. That was the nightmare that was all too real.
Then came the dream: Nurses for Newborns, a program to help at-risk mothers both during their pregnancies and after their deliveries. The initiative has three critical elements. First, recruit skilled nurses passionate about helping infants and their moms. Second, go directly to the mothers and children in their own homes — don’t make them come to a clinic. Third, attract substantial support — volunteers and dollars — from the community.
From its modest beginnings in the early 1990s, Nurses for Newborns has blossomed into a major force for infants within the St. Louis region. Last year, almost four thousand children benefited from home visits by the organization’s staff. Sharon Rohrbach’s vision — her marvelous dream — has come true.
After two decades of eighty-hour weeks, after scrambling for dollars here and volunteers there, after recruiting a talented staff, Sharon Rohrbach is retiring. Seldom has one individual done so much for so many — and accomplished it so well. Her motto has been “improvise, overcome and adapt”, but her legacy is a thriving organization poised to do even more for infants.
Thanks to the Delmar Loop’s Joe Edwards, St. Louis has its own Walk of Fame. Let’s have a star on it for Sharon Rohrbach.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.