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03/20/19
Angela Houck

 Vermont Oxford Network has awarded a “Center of Excellence in Education and Training for Infants and Families Affected by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome” designation to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

The award recognizes that at least 85 percent of the multidisciplinary care teams participating in the Maryland Patient Safety Center’s “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Collaborative: Improving Care to Improve Outcomes” completed universal training for care of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is drug withdrawal syndrome experienced by infants exposed to opioids while in utero. Infants born with NAS are more likely to have respiratory complications, feeding difficulty, low birthweights, and extended hospital stays.

“By providing our NAS caregivers quality, evidence-based education, we help our community in several ways, including improving the health of infants affected by NAS, reducing associated health care costs, and most importantly, improving the patient and family experience,” said Angela Houck, DNP, RNC-NIC, clinical supervisor of PRMC’s Special Care Nursery. “Our overall goal is to reduce total length of stay, while empowering families to be active providers in their child’s transition to home.” 

Maryland Patient Safety Center partnered with VON to provide 32 hospitals in the state universal training designed to standardize care policies. The collaborative approach to universal training included rapid-cycle distribution of current evidence-based practices to the entire interdisciplinary workforce engaged in caring for substance-exposed infants and families. This approach has been proven to reduce length of hospital stay and length of pharmacologic treatment while increasing family satisfaction. Peninsula Regional Medical Center is one of the 27 hospitals in the state that achieved the excellence designation from VON and contributed to the first statewide recognition of excellence in education and training that VON has awarded.

“The collective dedication of entire teams – including physicians, bedside nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals – make improvement possible,” said Bonnie DiPietro, Director of Operations for the Maryland Patient Safety Center. “We are already seeing fewer transports of infants, which means families get to stay closer to their local support system, and we expect to see outcomes improve even more over time.” 

“Congratulations to all the care teams across the state of Maryland who have shown how dedicated the state is to caring for this vulnerable population affected by the national opioid epidemic,” said Jeffrey Horbar, Chief Executive and Scientific Officer of VON.

As a global leader in data-driven quality improvement for newborn care, VON leads multi-center quality improvement collaboratives and provides resources to help interdisciplinary teams improve on the most critical and complex challenges facing newborn caregivers. While more than 250 centers nationwide have completed VON’s universal training for NAS, Maryland is the first statewide collaborative to achieve the Excellence in Education and Training distinction.