Promise to Hope
Many people believe that the majority of addicts are homeless or displaced people living on the street using illicit drugs. However, while many dispossessed people do have substance abuse problems, so do blue collar workers, professionals, and even our friends and colleagues. Ohio, and in particular the Dayton area, is a hotbed of opiate addiction.
Of the many devastating aspects of drug abuse, perhaps the most heartbreaking of all is the terrible toll it takes on its most vulnerable and innocent victims: babies born to opiate-addicted mothers. In the greater Dayton area, the number of pregnant women addicted to opiates continues to rise at a truly alarming rate – as much as five times higher than most other areas of the country.
There are complications with fetal exposure to opiates that do not occur in infants exposed to other drugs; infants do not withdraw from marijuana or cocaine after delivery. Exposure to opiates during pregnancy can have devastating consequences to the health and wellness of infants. Most infants exposed to opiates during the fetal period are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Infants born with NAS are at risk for a variety of conditions, including pre-term birth, low birth weight, feeding difficulties, irritability, respiratory distress, seizures, and fever or unstable temperature.
To address this growing problem in our area, the MVH Foundation raised funds to establish the Promise to Hope Program to care for addicted moms and their babies. Premier Health maternal-fetal health providers partner with Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) organizations in our community to cover gaps in care for these moms and babies. The comprehensive program provides medication-assisted treatment for the moms, and withdrawal treatment for infants to improve health outcomes for newborns exposed to opiate drugs during the fetal period. The program assists mothers from the initial identification of opiate addiction to several months post-partum – with a goal of keeping mother and child together in a stable home environment.
A key component of the program includes care coordination and case management not covered by AOD Medicaid. The program’s Care Manager and a social worker assist patients in navigating between the various AOD organizations, and help the participants overcome barriers to attending group meetings and parenting classes.
Miami Valley Hospital is uniquely positioned to offer this program. The hospital’s nationally-recognized Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has provided comprehensive care for critically ill newborns since the 1970s. MVH offers the facilities, the highly specialized equipment and the experienced neonatal physicians, nurses and related staff to provide care for the littlest victims of opiate abuse.
The program had a ‘soft start’ in May of 2015. In addition to improving the physical health and well-being of the moms and babies, area behavioral health agencies have become aware of – and are now active partners with – the MVH-based program. Prior to this program, all social workers could do was direct addicted pregnant women to a single area program that did not include comprehensive perinatal care.
Thanks to community support through the MVH Foundation, both the clinical and lifestyle needs of these patients are being e addressed. A support group has been established in conjunction with the program.
In addition to providing pre- and post-natal care for moms and babies, four MVH physicians have become certified to prescribe Medication-Assisted Therapy. This step gives opiate-addicted women additional time to join a behavioral health program – thus greatly increasing the odds that the patient would not give up and drop out before they had a chance to begin the hospital-based program.
To date, the program has served more than 125 patients.
Initial funding for the program came from proceeds of a gala fundraiser presented by the MVH Foundation on Dec. 31, 2014 in addition to other funding partners and friends from our community. The MVH Foundation is actively seeking several other funding partners and grant opportunities throughout the community and the region.
Promise to Hope Community Partners
- The ADAMHS Board of Montgomery County
- Five Rivers Health Centers
- Miami Valley Hospital Turning Point
- NOVA Behavior Health
- Samaritan Behavioral Health
- The Women’s Recovery Center in Xenia