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It’s always helpful to have a visiting nurse come over shortly after arriving home with a newborn, but many of us don’t realize how important a visit from a Society nurse can be after a miscarriage or for those dealing with infertility issues. That’s why Margaret Becker, the newly hired visiting nurse at NMCRS Rota, created a support group for service members and spouses.

“This is a very family-focused community, so it can be isolating for women and men who are dealing with miscarriage and loss,” explained Becker. “Our office offers a breastfeeding support group, so I thought why not also help those struggling to have a child?” Becker teaches prenatal care, baby care basics, and sibling classes for military families stationed in Rota “The Navy ships homeported here at Naval Station Rota, frequently deploy leaving family members alone. They really appreciate our programs and support.”

In Rota, military families may be referred to the Spanish healthcare system if the U.S. Naval Hospital is not equipped to address the issue or is at full capacity. Becker frequently serves as a liaison helping family members understand and navigate the unfamiliar Spanish medical system. “Most often, American military families want to receive care through the American health system,” she explained. “The Spaniards have a different expectation regarding the level of care provided by the medical professionals. In the Spanish medical system, the family takes care of their own family members. In America, nurses provide that care.” Before she was employed by the Society as a visiting nurse, Becker was a volunteer visiting nurse, working under the direction of her predecessor at NMCRS Rota. “There aren’t many paid jobs for American nurses overseas,” she explained.

While Spanish health care is relatively new to Becker, she has a lifetime of experience with the military lifestyle. “My dad was a career naval officer, my husband is active duty Navy, and my brother is a Navy OB-GYN,” she said. Before she became a nurse, Becker was a contracting officer for the Department of Defense. “Right out of college I got a civil service job which helped me improve my computer and negotiation skills. I learned about supporting the warfighter.” But, after a few years, Becker realized she was ready for a different career. She considered becoming a physician or a midwife, and shadowed her brother during several deliveries. “The nurses I observed during those deliveries impressed me,” she recalled. “I was in awe of what they did, so I applied for nursing school.”

After graduating, Becker joined a perinatal program at the University of California San Diego. Her responsibilities covered the spectrum of mom and baby nursing, including ante-partum, post-partum, and NICU nursing. “I took care of a lot of high-risk patients,” she explained. “The hospital had a methadone clinic and that meant there were a lot of incarcerated patients. We took care of babies weaning off heroin. Now I’m working with a different population.”

Becker’s knowledge as a mom and baby nurse also stems from personal experience, as she is the mother of four-year-old twins and a two-year-old. “When you have a baby, you’re in the hospital for two or three days and you’re exhausted. I used to tell my patients, ‘ask me questions now, while you’re here in the hospital, because you can’t take me home.’ But now, as a Society visiting nurse I can go home with them! When I’m in their home, I can give them a lot of information over a period of three home visits, not just in one discharge conversation. I love this program.”

By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

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