Published on July 26, 2016

Milford Regional Designated as a Center of Excellence for Substance-Exposed Infants and Their Families

Milford Regional Medical Center (Milford Regional) was awarded the designation as a 2016 Center of Excellence in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Care by the Vermont Oxford Network. This nonprofit voluntary collaboration of health care professionals works together as an interdisciplinary community to change the landscape of neonatal care.

Opioid use in pregnant women has escalated dramatically resulting in a corresponding rise in the number of newborn infants who develop severe signs of opioid withdrawal. Infants with NAS have higher rates of neonatal complications and prolonged lengths of hospital stay. Extended hospitalizations are a serious burden for the complex, fragile families and can interfere with ongoing maternal treatment for substance abuse disorders.

In 2015, Milford Regional enrolled in a national multi-center quality improvement collaborative sponsored by Vermont Oxford Network. This collaborative, titled INICQ 2015: A Universal Training Solution Improving Outcomes for Infants and Families Affected by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) engaged 110 centers from around the United States in improving the quality, safety and value of care for substance-exposed infants and their families. Centers participated in a series of live webinars, developed structured improvement programs, audited their local practice outcomes and benchmarked with others. Quality improvement programs focused on standardizing care have the potential to improve the quality and safety of care, improve the patient and family experience of care and decrease unnecessary length of stay and associated costs.

Additionally, participating centers were encouraged to implement a standardized education and training program for their healthcare team and when possible, to strive to become a Center of Excellence in NAS Education and Training. This designation is awarded to centers who successfully train at least 85% of their designated care team, using a novel online learning platform to complete 17 critical learning lessons. Milford Regional trained a total of 40 interdisciplinary healthcare providers representing 100% of their team, which included maternity nurses, obstetrician/gynecologists and pediatricians.

Milford Regional's Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Care program, called Baby Steps, helps prepare families to care for their newborn that has been exposed to medications, drugs or alcohol. This includes patients in treatment using methadone or subutex/suboxone. Moms-to-be, who are referred to the program, are provided information and support during their pregnancy, hospital stay and after they go home. According to Rose Galimi-Hayes, RN, nurse manager of The Maternity Center at Milford Regional, the program stresses inpatient family recovery and the goal is for mom and baby to go home together. "I've seen that the baby and mom are more conducive to treatment and recovery when they are kept together," she says. "It is empowering to the mother to see how she can care and comfort her baby."

"I want to commend Milford Regional nurses and physicians who make up the designated NAS care team for their dedication to the health and well-being of substance-exposed newborns, as well as their families," says Edward J. Kelly, Milford Regional's president and CEO. "Their willingness to enroll in a nationwide collaborative to improve the care of these infants, one of our most vulnerable populations, and support the moms in their recovery affirms the compassion and commitment to excellence in care that our team is known for. Becoming a Center of Excellence in NAS Education and Training is the first step in improving the lives of these infants and their families."




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