Woman’s GRACE program gets federal boost to help mothers addicted to opioids

Updated: Feb. 4, 2020 at 9:42 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Woman’s Hospital is working to expand one of its most innovative programs that helps women with drug problems deliver healthy babies.

The GRACE (Guiding Recovery and Creating Empowerment) program provides resources and support for pregnant women addicted to opioids. It has helped about 80 women since launching in September of 2018 through a grant from the United Health Foundation.

A new grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will provide about $5 million over five years. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) was one of ten states selected for the award. Woman’s was chosen by LDH as one of only two hospitals in Louisiana.

“In our new partnership with LDH, we will be providing an even greater level of care coordination, along with a longer time frame of treatment for our patients,” added Dr. Barbara Griffith, president and CEO of Woman’s Hospital. “And with expanded outreach efforts to physicians and community partners, we can begin helping women as soon as they know they are pregnant.”

“This will allow us to have sustainability and be able to serve moms not only in our community of Baton Rouge, but throughout the state,” said Cheri Johnson, senior vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at Woman’s Hospital.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the hospital hosted the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus. Senators and representatives got a tour of the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and an in-depth explanation of how the program works.

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Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, says she was glad to see the program expanding statewide. Her district includes rural parts of Tangipahoa and Washington parishes that have a high rate of opioid use.

“The GRACE program has shown that we can make a real difference in health outcomes for this vulnerable group of women and their infants. We are grateful for the support of United Health and are excited to enter into the next chapter of our battle against opioid addiction,” said Dr. Griffith.

In addition to helping mothers, GRACE also works to reduce the amount of medication needed to treat babies with withdrawal symptoms.

“This certainly lives up to our mission of improving the health of women and infants, and really taking care of women in a genuine, empathetic, non-judgmental way,” Johnson said. “This allows us to be able to provide a way that they can be heard, given some control of their situation, and some resources to really begin their journey of recovery."

If you or someone you know could benefit from the GRACE program, call Woman’s Hospital at 225-924-8574 or check out their website. It’s completely confidential.

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