A fresh start for mothers and infants

 In General

The cost of a high-risk pregnancy is greater than just a steep hospital bill. It often leads to serious developmental difficulties down the line, and when compounded with other obstacles in early childhood can have long-lasting adverse effects.

The New Day program, created by Umpqua Health Alliance, offers a fresh start for mothers and their newborns from the first trimester through childbirth. For many, it’s quite literally a life saver.

Mandy Rigsby

New Day was developed in 2017 to help pregnant women struggling with substance abuse or other behavioral health challenges.

“There was an influx of babies being born with Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS), and a lot of those babies had to be taken to the NICU,” said coordinator Mandy Rigsby, a certified addiction counselor.

Rigsby explained that aside from the average cost of about $60,000 for a newborn’s stay in the ICU, the toll on the baby, mother and family is immense.

The New Day program aims to alleviate that strain by connecting expectant mothers to a range of services and programs to ensure healthy development and delivery. While addiction recovery is where the program first started, it now addresses a range of social determinants of health.

Rigsby began by reaching out to the county health department, OB-GYNs, and the Department of Human Services to assess the need in Douglas County. She also has done dozens of community presentations to make sure partners are aware of the services available.

She now acts as the liaison between pregnant women and a range of wraparound services, from drug treatment to oral health to legal advocacy.

“Our goal is a healthy baby, and keeping the mother and baby together,” Rigsby said. “We work with any substance or any social determinant of health. We’ll connect to counseling or help with a utility bill – whatever we can do to create a healthy environment.”

The services are paying off. At the end of 2019, there had been 101 members in the program leading to 66 births, with six going to the NICU, including only two for complications due to substance abuse. Keeping the vast majority out of intensive care represents a total potential savings of about $3.6 million.

The New Beginnings program, also supported by Umpqua Health Alliance, takes over after the newborn and mother leave the hospital. Its goal is to help maintain a healthy lifestyle through the early childhood years.

The early intervention program for children 0-5 was established in early 2019. It connects to children not just through the New Day program, but from primary and emergency care referrals, DHS and other community resources.

There were 495 children in foster care in Douglas County in 2018, according to Department of Human Services, up from 300 in 2008. There’s a strong need to connect those children to services, but the number of options can be overwhelming to a family trying make it day to day.

The program engaged with about 50 children through 2019 and is monitoring 150 more. As with New Day, the programs cover addiction recovery, transportation assistance, parenting classes, therapy and a host of other offerings to lift traumatic burden from young families.

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