Maternal Health Programs Receive $1.4 Million To Battle Opioid Crisis

Opioid abuse is sadly a common ailment that many suffer from; however, this addiction affects more than just those abusing the substances. Pregnant mothers who suffer from opioid abuse risk passing the dependency onto their children. Worse yet, they risk losing the pregnancy altogether. In the following press release, the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs outlines their most recent contribution to combat this crisis:

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), the department has awarded the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) more than $1.4 million in funding to continue the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative’s (PA PQC) work in improving perinatal health outcomes through March 2023.

“We are deeply committed to the health and well-being of mothers and children across the commonwealth,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “Meeting the needs of this vulnerable population requires a collaborative approach across the health care system and this funding will help assure that they are directly connected with services to help them, and their newborn or soon-to-be newborn thrive.”

As an action arm of the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the PA PQC supports healthcare providers across the commonwealth in implementing key interventions in response to the major causes of maternal deaths. This includes a focus on maternal substance use, substance-exposed newborns, maternal depression, severe hypertension, and reducing racial/ethnic disparities. The PA PQC’s focus is growing in 2022 with several expanded and new initiatives to help birth sites and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) drive improvement and adopt standards of care.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is proud to partner with JHF on the Moving on Maternal Depression (MOMD) initiative to make sure that women and people who have given birth receive the mental and behavioral health care they need and deserve,” said Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “While this program is an important step in addressing and hopefully reversing the tragic maternal mortality rates in Pennsylvania, we must commit to tangible steps – like continued support for programs that prioritize perinatal health for both parents and children – that will help moms, babies, parents, and families thrive.”

The PA PQC currently includes 53 birth sites and NICUs, representing 81% of live births in Pennsylvania, and 14 commercial and Medicaid health plans across the commonwealth, which are actively identifying perinatal processes that need to be improved and adopting best practices to achieve common aims.

The perinatal care teams from the PA PQC sites form a team, participate in quarterly learning sessions, launch quality improvement initiatives, access quality improvement resources, and report aggregate data via surveys and the PA PQC Data Portal to drive improvement towards the PA PQC’s goals.

Among PA PQC hospitals that submitted surveys for the January-March 2022 quarter, the PA PQC has observed the following in comparison to the baselines for sites prior to joining the PA PQC:

  • 43% increase in the percentage of hospitals providing medications for opioid use disorder (OUD).
  • 100% increase in the percentage of hospitals using validated, self-reported screening tools for maternal substance use.
  • 41% increase in the percentage of hospitals using standardized non-pharmacologic protocols for NAS.
  • 26% increase in the percentage of hospitals using standardized pharmacologic protocols for NAS.

“These improvements in the recognition and treatment of mothers with OUD and neonates suffering from NAS are a direct result of open dialogue between staff from collaborating hospitals,” said James A. Cook, MD, FAAP, director of newborn services at Geisinger Health System and co-chair of the PA PQC Advisory Work Group. “With updated information provided by keynote speakers from across the country, the PA PQC brings together teams of nurses, physicians, social workers, and community providers from all parts of Pennsylvania to share their success stories so that all hospitals may learn from each other.”

DDAP previously awarded JHF $700,000 to support the launch of the PA PQC in April 2019. The launch included a 140-member advisory workgroup across the commonwealth primarily focused on reducing maternal mortality and improving care for pregnant and postpartum women and newborns affected by opioids.

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