WMH Program Awarded More Funding to Help Addicted Moms & Babies

(Honesdale, November 2, 2021)… When Kaitlin White, 32, sought help with her substance use disorder, particularly for her soon-to-be-born baby boy, she reached out to the Women’s Health Center in Honesdale and found Wayne Memorial Licensed Social Worker Nicole Hartung.

“I was in active addiction when I was arrested and found out I was pregnant in jail,” says Kaitlin, “and as I started going through withdrawal I knew I had to kick this once and for all—for him, my son Colton. Nicole was there for me, and I am so grateful.”

Nicole and staff at the Women’s Health Center and Wayne Memorial Hospital’s New Beginnings Birthing Suites, where Colton was born on October 24, are part of a team dedicated to helping addicted moms and babies connect to services that can help them.  For the second straight year, this team has received a $15,000 grant to support their work from the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative (PA PQC) and its administrator, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. The monies come from the state Department of Drug and Alcohol’s Opioid Response program.

“This past year alone, with the help of these funds, we have referred eight women to Wayne County Drug and Alcohol for help,” said Nicole. “It’s been really uplifting to see women like Kaitlin reaching out for help and taking advantage of what’s available to promote the best, most positive, outcomes for themselves and their infants.”

The New Beginnings initiative for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and Maternal Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) works closely with programs such as the Wright Center’s Healthy Moms Program, Parents as Teachers, and Nurse-Family Partnerships, a program that provides regular visits by a specially trained nurse to young, first-time moms-to-be.

Kaitlin was connected with the Wright Center and began a MAT program, medication- assisted treatment in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. The Milford mom, who has two other children, said she couldn’t succeed without Wayne Memorial. “Especially Nicole,” said Kaitlin, “She gives me the support I need to stay clean.”

New Beginnings Clinical Co-Coordinator Janice Pettinato, RN, said the PA PQC grants  specifically helped staff utilize a tool called the 5Ps, create the infrastructure needed to facilitate next steps and develop important reporting tactics. The 5Ps, a questionnaire that replaced once-standard urine screenings, identifies issues early on by asking a pregnant woman about substance abuse by her parents, peers, partner, herself in the past or herself at present.

According to the most recent data from the CDC, approximately one baby is diagnosed with NAS every 19 minutes in the United States—nearly 80 newborns every day. Long-term effects can include hearing, vision and developmental problems.

At New Beginnings, “we birth close to 500 babies a year, and only a very small number suffer from NAS,” said Pettinato, “but helping even one baby can mean helping an entire family and families they may have in the future.”

Photo: Kaitlin White, left, and son Colton with Nicole Hartung, LSW. 

Below: Colton