The Family Place Named Center of Excellence in Education for Infants & Families Impacted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

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Published on April 04, 2017

The Family Place Named 2016 Center of Excellence in Education and Training for Infants and Families Impacted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Complementary interventions for babies with neonatal abstinence syndromeThe Family Place at Concord Hospital has been recognized as a leader in training its staff to handle the dangerous increase in the number of babies born with opioid drug dependency. Opioid use in pregnant women has escalated dramatically, resulting in a corresponding rise in the number of newborns who develop severe signs of opioid withdrawal, a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Infants with NAS have higher rates of neonatal complications and prolonged lengths of hospital stay, straining fragile families and healthcare resources.

In 2015, the Family Place joined 110 centers from around the country in a collaborative sponsored by Vermont Oxford Network (VON) to develop structured improvement programs and implement a standardized education and training program for their healthcare team.

In recognition of its exceptional commitment, VON named The Family Place at Concord Hospital a Center of Excellence in NAS Education and Training. This designation is awarded to centers who train at least 85 percent of their designated care team in a specialized program involving 17 critical learning lessons. The Family Place trained 74 interdisciplinary healthcare providers, representing 89 percent of the designated care team.

Complementary Interventions for Babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

To care for NAS babies without medication, Concord Hospital Therapeutic Arts and Activity Services collaborates with The Family Place to provide complementary therapies that already have helped thousands of patients, at no cost. Therapies include: Reiki, live therapeutic music and aromatherapy.

The goal was to ease babies’ symptoms without medication, reduce the use of morphine, enhance maternal-infant bonding by introducing parents to alternative ways to comfort their newborns and decrease the infants’ length of Hospital stay.

The program has helped lessen the use of medication to treat NAS. At approximately 23 percent, Concord Hospital’s rate of pharmacological intervention is less than half the national rate of 48 percent. Our goal is to decrease that percentage to 15 percent.

Newborns receiving the treatments often showed improvement such as sleeping better, decreasing heart rate and other symptoms. Adult family members engaged with the sessions noticed their own stress and anxiety decreased and they got more sleep. The therapies also benefit nurses, who report that caring for inconsolable infants is physically and emotionally draining. Often, nurses report their own stress is eased through the live therapeutic music and Reiki sessions and by having alternate ways to comfort the babies. Hospitals in other states and other countries have requested information about our valuabl-e partnership.

From October 2015 to September 2016, the complementary interventions program included 36 newborns and approximately 45 adult family members. Approximately 40 nurses were present for Reiki or therapeutic music sessions.