In its first year, Adena Health System’s Subutex/Soboxone program for drug-dependent pregnant women is experiencing positive results. In the nearly 13 months the program has been active, none of the babies born to drug-addicted mothers has been born with an opiate addiction.
The program was developed, with assistance of a grant from CareSource, after Adena caregivers saw the need to help moms-to-be while they are pregnant, in hopes of avoiding the serious problems associated with opiate-addicted newborns.
“We recognized that with the mom battling addiction, we often had a baby who was also addicted,” said Jackie Rebman, RN, MSN, Adena’s director of Specialty Services. “In the past, we would send the infant to Columbus for treatment and make a Children’s Services referral. However, as nurses and caregivers, we struggled with that process. We weren’t really doing anything proactively to help the mom - and we definitely weren’t helping the baby.”
The new program provides the moms-to-be with support from an Adena social worker, doctors and nurses; along with weekly group meetings with other pregnant women who are also trying to deliver babies that will not be born addicted to opiates.
“Most of the moms in the program are heavy users,” said Program Facilitator Donna Collier-Stepp, MSW, LSW, HO, an Adena social worker. “It’s difficult to get them all the way off of the drug before they deliver. We manage it by using Subutex, a synthetic opiate that is safer for the fetus.”
Typically, an opiate-addicted infant requires hospitalization and extended care in the nursery from two weeks to up to 60 days. So far, none of the 12 children born to 11 mothers in the program has required Morphine to comfort the infant during the withdrawal process. The babies born to moms in the program are kept in the nursery for five days for monitoring and released if all is well.
The program has strict guidelines, which require the women to meet with an Adena social worker once a week where they receive that week’s Subutex medication. They are also subject to random drug screening. In addition, the women are required to join a local addiction group such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholic Anonymous, and must work with a sober partner through those groups.
Adena has been approved for an additional grant from the March of Dimes and the State of Ohio’s Medicaid Program that will help to expand the program. A second group is expected to begin later this spring.