UNHS Health Educators set to begin Family Spirit

The new Utah Navajo Health System Public Health Program called Family Spirit® will begin later this month as a home-visit model, geared toward helping young Native American families, and all families served by UNHS, regardless of race.

“Those who are young single mothers and young couples who have kids,” UNHS Public Health Director Shawn Begay explained. “They might have had kids when they were young teenagers. There are life skills they might not have picked up on because of an unplanned pregnancy, or maybe it was planned. Family Spirit is a program to help them learn how to interact with their children and teach them life skills. It’s a series of lessons that progress along with the life cycle of the child as well as the mom. The program works with single parents or couples. It’s actually encouraged to involve both parents if they are both there.”

To facilitate the Family Spirit® program, Begay announced the addition of two Public Health Educators, Darcie Chamberlain, RN, and Talisha Biakeddy, LPN, who will work from the UNHS Blanding Family Practice and Monument Valley Community Health Centers. A third Public Health Educator will be hired to work from the Montezuma Creek Community Health Center. These Health Educators are undergoing a weeklong training this week with trainers from various locations across the nation, under the supervision of Johns Hopkins University.

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Darcie Chamberlain is a native of St. George, Utah, where she graduated from Dixie High School in 1991. After high school she attended Southern Utah University, in Cedar City, with the idea of becoming a Math teacher. When she faced the reality of having to study something like 4-dimensional geometry she lost interest in math. But when she met Alton Chamberlain, an Education Major and native of Blanding, one plus one made a family. They were eventually married and more than two decades later, Darcie and Alton have five children and they have lived in places like Morristown, New York, Nevada and Glendale, Utah. Their sons are ages 21, 19 and 17. They have two girls ages 16 and 13. They moved their family back to Blanding in 2007 and Alton took a position at University of Utah – Eastern, Blanding Campus. He has been teaching 4th Grade at Blanding Elementary School for four years.

After moving to Blanding, Darcie went back to school to study nursing at the University of Utah – Eastern, Blanding Campus and received her LPN, RN and Bachelors Degree. She worked at Blue Mountain Hospital for two years and joined UNHS in 2014. She is currently enrolled in an online Masters program at the University of South Alabama, in Mobile, in Family Practice Nursing.

According to Darcie, the Family Spirit program is a great opportunity to help expectant mothers and families with young children. Under the program, the Public Health Educators begin working with mothers in the 28th week of pregnancy and follow the progress of the mother and child through age 3 years. They teach things like life skills, how to care for the baby, help with newborn screening and other tests, and basically become involved with the family as a mentor. Educators meet with families in their homes or they can meet at the clinics or where ever they feel comfortable meeting.

“I’m really excited,” Darcie said about the program. “I’m really looking forward to connecting with patients on a personal level and following them for several years. Hopefully, I can make a difference. I will share basic self-knowledge, what is normal and not normal when it comes to caring for babies and help the mother and family gain self-confidence and self-improvement.”

Talisha Biakeddy – Health Educator


Like Darcie Chamberlain, Talisha Biakeddy is excited to be a Public Health Nurse and Educator with the Family Spirit program.

She received her LPN after studying at Utah State University – Eastern, Blanding Campus. She has completed the RN course at USU-Eastern, Blanding Campus and is waiting to take the State Board Exam. She began working at UNHS on January 18 as part of the Family Spirit program.

Talisha grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and graduated from Coconino High School in 2006. She attended Northern Arizona University for a while, and later her family moved to Monument Valley to be closer to her grandmother. Talisha is anxious to start the Family Spirit program, working with young mothers and their babies in the area of the Utah Strip of the Navajo Reservation, from Monument Valley all the way to Navajo Mountain.

“I will make home visits or I can meet with patients in the clinic. It depends on the situation. Everything is taylored to the patient,” Talisha said. “The goal is to increase the knowledge of the mother, increase the safety of her and her child and help with the healthy development of the child and the new family.

“This program will be very beneficial to young families in this area. The challenge is the distances that must be traveled,” she added.

Talisha has two younger sisters, including one who is attending the University of Tulsa, in Oklahoma. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with her two dogs, camping, fishing and football. As a freshman in high school, Talisha actually played football at Coconino High as a lineman on the freshman team.

We are happy to welcome Talisha to the UNHS family and we look forward to following the progress of Darcie and Talisha in the Family Spirit program. We wish them luck in their new venture.

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