Project Term: 24 months; Ended 2018
Grant Amount: $50,000
Through this grant, Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s (KRH) neonatal intensive care unit staff worked with Montana hospitals to develop and implement a standardized protocol to screen for and manage drug withdrawal in newborns. The grant resulted in several important accomplishments: 1) The grantee developed an educational video for staff using the Modified Finnegan Scoring Tool to assess infants exposed to opiates in utero. 2) The implementation of a new “incentivized parenting program” that fostered a cultural shift away from blaming mothers for their addiction and toward a sympathetic, supportive attitude that encouraged parents to participate in care of their infants and to engage in education and treatment activities; 3) The NICU improved cooperation with state agencies to support families. An independent evaluation of the program suggested that these accomplishments helped reduce foster care placement of infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The prevalence of foster care placement for babies with NAS decreased from 75% (N = 12) in 2015 to 11.1% (N = 9) in 2017 (partial). Continuing an earlier trend, the average length of hospital stays for NAS-affected babies went from 23.5 days (average 2014-2015) to 14.9 days (N = 9) in 2017 (partial).