Navigating the stressors of a medically complicated birth can seem overwhelming, even for those that may have good health insurance and few barriers to resources. For families struggling to overcome disparities involving the social determinants of health, like lack of access to basic necessities (e.g. housing or food) or even managing addiction or mental health concerns, giving birth to a NICU baby can create further insecurities experienced by the whole family. This is where our team of social workers at ProgenyHealth play such a pivotal role in the lives of these vulnerable infants and their families, connecting them to vital local resources like food and housing, drug rehabilitation programs, and counseling services.
In September, NICU Awareness Month, we want to acknowledge that many factors outside of “typical” medical conditions demand holistic solutions in neonatal care. Deficiencies in the social determinants of health can become obstacles that lead to increased risk and poor outcomes, especially within this clinically vulnerable population. Consequently, providers, payers, and caregivers must work together to identify and address these factors which can negatively impact the health status of these infants.
Ask any mom or family member who’s been through the experience, and they’ll tell you there’s nothing “normal” about a NICU stay, regardless of how long it lasts, or the relative health of their infant. Even when care is provided by dedicated staff at the best hospitals, the emotional roller coaster ride endures for the entire NICU length-of-stay, which can average 20+ days.
Helping both families and providers during this time (and enabling payers to provide additional benefits and expertise to support them), is critical to reducing overall system costs and ensuring each infant has the best possible chance for a healthy outcome.
ProgenyHealth is committed to helping providers everywhere with one of the most devastating aspects of the opioid crisis: neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). With our newly updated Best Practices for Management of Infants with NAS, our clinical team has addressed major issues affecting these babies and their families.
From 2004-2013, the incidence of NAS and maternal opioid use in the United States increased disproportionately in rural counties from 12.9% in 2003/2004 to 21.2% in 2012/20131.
ProgenyHealth’s team of neonatologists, pediatric nurses, and social workers have managed over 65,000 NICU cases to-date as part of our neonatal medical management service offering. Infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – symptoms related to opioid exposure in the womb – represent a complex and growing segment of this population. Tackling their unique challenges requires a specialized approach that supports the needs of both the mother and the baby.
May 6 - 12 is National Nurses Week and this years' theme is "4 million reasons to celebrate". Like their colleagues everywhere, our team of highly skilled nurses works tirelessly every day to support the health outcomes of the tiniest of patients: infants who are or have been in neonatal intensive care units.
Premature and medically complex newborn cases are inherently challenging. And when broader variables such as the social determinants of health come into play, ensuring positive outcomes for both babies and families becomes exponentially more difficult. This is the challenge that ProgenyHealth's nurses embrace on a daily basis.
Fulfilling our mission at ProgenyHealth means supporting all those who care about and impact NICU infant health outcomes. Envision a circle, with infants and families at the center, widening to encompass providers, payers, social services, and many others. This is the networked team that must work together to effectively address and overcome the difficulties inherent in managing premature and medically complex infant cases.