Monday, January 10, 2022 at 2:23 PM
PITTSBURGH and ERIE, Pa (January 6, 2021) – Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Perinatal Hope Program is pleased to announce today its expansion into Butler and Erie counties to support and care for pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorders (OUDs). The program’s expansion was made possible thanks to a recent federal grant, announced by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf late last year, of more than $583,000 as part of a $55 million federal block grant program awarded to the state via the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services SAMHSA.
The Perinatal Hope Program, a part of the AHN Women’s Institute, currently operates out of AHN West Penn, AHN Jefferson and AHN Forbes hospitals. It will now open sites aligned with AHN Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie (232 W. 25th Street) and AHN’s Northern Regional OB/GYN in Butler County (125 Emeryville Dr., Cranberry Township).
Perinatal Hope will further enhance and expand upon AHN Saint Vincent’s Growing Hope program, which has helped opioid-addicted moms in the northwest Pennsylvania Erie for more than five years.
The grant will also be used to bolster the Perinatal Hope program’s overall services and clinical staff – including the addition of a peer recovery specialist, behavioral health consultant, social worker and certified nurse practitioner – across its existing footprint in Allegheny, Beaver and Fayette counties.
“On behalf of AHN, we truly look forward to offering our integrated services and support to even more pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorders,” said Krista Flaherty, LCSW, MSW, Manager of the AHN Perinatal Hope Program. “Purposeful resources – accessed early and often – can be integral to mitigating potential long-term impacts on the health and well-being of mother and baby. It’s important to note that today’s announcement also comes at a critical time against the backdrop of the ongoing opioid epidemic.”
The rate of hospitalizations with opioid use disorder per 100,000 residents in 2019 was 293.2 for Pennsylvania, 296.9 for Butler County and 344.3 for Erie County. The rate of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – a set of complications caused by a newborn’s drug withdrawal due to a mother’s substance use disorder – is two times higher in Pennsylvania when compared to the national average.
Designed to be a “one-stop shop,” Perinatal Hope works to brings together different services, health care professionals and educational materials so women can get maximum support from a routine prenatal visit. The program’s clinical team also works closely with the AHN Center of Inclusion Health and Women’s Behavioral Health to provide holistic care.
Enrolled prenatal patients may access medication assisted therapy for opioid use disorder, care coordination, education on relevant chronic conditions and drug and alcohol counseling through POWER, among other resources during their routine OB/GYN exams. The program also extends its services through postpartum.
“New mothers with substance use disorders often face unique challenges, including the relative lack of specialized and prioritized postpartum treatment resources, the stigma of having an infant exposed to substances, postpartum hormonal changes, and postpartum depression,” said Marcia Klein-Patel, MD, PhD and Chair of AHN Women’s Institute. “For these reasons, among other factors, overdose rates during the postpartum periods are notably elevated which is why it’s so important to continue access to health care and other community-backed programs to better support the entire family, even after delivery.”
Additional services currently offered by AHN Perinatal Hope include newborn education, lactation support and eased access to care for postpartum depression. The program also plans to launch services to include smoking cessation, STD/HIV education, financial empowerment and safe sleep education.
Perinatal Hope is slated to enroll first patients across Butler and Erie offices by early 2022. For more information, please go to ahn.org/NotAlone or call 412-578-5575.