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The Relentless School Nurse: Meet Aunt Bertha

By Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, FNASN, FAAN posted 10-08-2017 07:24


Screen_Shot_2017-09-30_at_9_31_37_PM.pngMeet Aunt Bertha! 

One of the 5 principles of NASN’s Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice is Community/Public Health. Relentless School Nursing calls for knowing our community resources and providing helpful, accurate and effective referrals. How embarrassing is it to refer a family to a resource only to find out that it has shut down, changed their phone number or moved to a different location?  Meet, this is a game changer. I use this website frequently in my health office. Aunt Bertha is one of my go-to tools in The Relentless School Nurse’s toolkit! “helps people in need and those that help them.”  That tagline speaks volumes about the mission and vision of What I find most helpful is the search engine is organized around the social determinants of health. explains it best: “Aunt Bertha makes it easy for people facing social needs - and those who help others - to find and make referrals to appropriate programs and services for food, shelter, health care, work, financial assistance and more.” Aunt Bertha is a social service search engine that vets the resources and updates them every 6 months.

Their mission statement explains that “Aunt Bertha exists to connect all people in need and the programs that serve them (with dignity and ease).” The website is easy to navigate, the minimalist design helps direct search options and does not overwhelm or overstimulate the user with extraneous content.  Think Google meets social determinants of health adeptly arranged by zip codes.

Deborah Levine, MPH, Director of Community Health for the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute shared her enthusiasm about this unique service when she wrote: “Aunt Bertha is one of the most accurate social service search engines out there. All information is automatically verified for accuracy by the Aunt Bertha data team every six months. This is a resource for patients, providers, and patient navigators. Providers and patient navigators using Aunt Bertha can provide electronic referrals through the sites, and follow up on the care of their patients directly through the site.”

Aunt Bertha is a socially responsible organization where health equity is a shared value.  This is demonstrated in their belief that “making human services information accessible to people in need means that anybody, anywhere can find out what services are available, whether or not they qualify and can begin the process for getting enrolled. It also means that people can track the status of their referrals, view their search history and better understand the population of services available their community through free community-based reporting.” – Mission

My favorite thing outside of the helpful and accurate information available on are the 5 Core Values:

  1. Seekers First
  2. No Platitudes
  3. Solve Today's Problem
  4. Do Beautiful Work
  5. Take Care of Yourself and Others 

Number 4, Do Beautiful Work, is my favorite Core Value.  I think Relentless School Nurses do Beautiful Work (sometimes messy, but always beautiful) day after day, year after year for our nation’s children.  Please check out and share your experience! is a nationwide social service search engine! Search for your region's local resources by zip code.

Before I end, New Jersey School Nurses have an added bonus through There are four additional sites that are specific to serving New Jersey communities. 

Three of the New Jersey Aunt Bertha websites are:

Jersey City

Mercer County:

Cumberland County:

These websites were created through the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign, and are sponsored by the United Health Foundation.  The program that houses Aunt Bertha is called Healthy Communities create Healthy Citizens (HCHC). HCHC lives within the Mayors Wellness Campaign. Here’s the program website:

The fourth NJ specific website is through a collaboration with the Camden Coalition of HealthCare Providers.  Here is a blog post from the Coalition that explains this unique partnership:

That website for Camden City is: