As Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month comes to a close, we’d like to remind everyone of the unique challenges that families, providers, and communities face in caring for premature and medically complex newborns – struggles that often endure well beyond infancy.
The March of Dimes is one of the most widely known and respected charities. They’ve been leading the charge for healthier babies and moms for decades, and their mission is near and dear to our hearts here at ProgenyHealth. Fighting Premature Birth: The Prematurity Campaign puts focus on many of the issues that we also face in providing care management services for such infants and their families in the first year of life.
According to CDC data as of 2016 cited in the campaign, 9.8% of all births in the US are preterm (<37 weeks gestation). Unfortunately, the rate of such births is growing, and the national opioid epidemic is contributing to the problem. To-date, a single solution has proven elusive. Until one is found, the best approach is a renewed focus on the issue that encompasses its inherent breadth and depth.
Organizations like the March of Dimes understand and embrace this perspective. At ProgenyHealth, we work closely with neonatal intensive care providers in hospitals across the country to ensure the highest clinical standards of care are met and babies are coming home healthy. But the need for support does not stop at discharge. Many moms and families lack basic necessities of life, compounding the difficulties of caring for an already at-risk infant.
These social determinants of health, rarely discussed in the ongoing debate over healthcare reform, are encountered every day by our Case Managers at ProgenyHealth. These professionals are the primary point of contact with our moms and caregivers, but they work as part of an integrated team that goes into action each time a baby enters the NICU. And the care coordination they provide factors heavily into whether the medical treatment that child received in the first days of life will result in enduring health. Among the many duties they perform, our Case Managers help arrange the services new moms are likely to need – car seats, diapers, education on caring for their infant, scheduling doctor appointments, and the like. But we also provide a lifeline in the most desperate of times – connections to food, shelter, clothing and basic safety resources.
NICU babies are literally born fighters, but they do not fight alone. At ProgenyHealth, we salute the families, charities, healthcare providers, payers, case managers, social workers, and so many others that join this battle every day. Their dedication to these young infants truly requires more than one month to honor.