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Grant Will Assist Women with Opioid Use Disorder to Navigate Pregnancy

Lawrence, MA—Lawrence General Hospital was recently awarded a three-year grant totaling almost $100,000 from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation for a new program to help women with opioid use disorder navigate pregnancy to achieve better health outcomes and connect them with peer support. These new support components add depth to a well-recognized and successful program at Lawrence General to provide specialized inpatient treatment for these mothers and babies.

“Women with opioid use disorder have complex medical needs and face multiple challenges in caring for both themselves and their children,” says Nicole Garabedian, RN, MSN, director of Integrated Care at Lawrence General. “Because opiates make one lethargic and unable to focus on even the simplest tasks, the children of women suffering from opioid addiction are at high risk of neglect and other types of abuse.”

To help address these challenges, Lawrence General will use its Tower Foundation grant to support a new patient navigator program for pregnant women with opioid use disorder. These navigators will guide mothers through the health care continuum and help them obtain the support they need to ensure a more positive health outcome.

As part of this program, the navigator will assist mothers in adhering to a drug treatment program and attending pre-natal care appointments and drug screenings. As needed, they will also help mothers to access mental health services, secure transportation to appointments, and connect with other organizations that can provide assistance with food, housing, clothing, and other basic necessities.

To complement this new patient navigator role, Lawrence General also hopes to start a new peer support program. This program would bring mothers with common medical conditions together to share experiences, learn new skills, and receive group support to help the individuals change their behaviors and achieve better outcomes. The group would be managed by a peer leader, someone who has successfully overcome addiction, and will also include guidance from health professionals and educators.

These new services build on Lawrence General’s already successful Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome program, which provides interventions to opioid-exposed newborns and their mothers to ensure best immediate and long-term outcomes.

“These mothers and babies are especially vulnerable, and also responsive to this kind of support,” comments Dianne J. Anderson, RN, president and CEO of Lawrence General. “We are so grateful to the Tower Foundation for helping us to extend a hand to these families. Giving these women the tools to provide a healthy start for their babies can make a lifetime of difference.”

The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation supports community programming that results in children, adolescents, and young adults affected by intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, mental illness, and substance use disorders achieving their full potential.

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