WellSpan gets grant for new moms battling substance-use disorders

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YORK—WellSpan Health has announced it will use nearly $600,000 in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to expand a program that has already served hundreds of expectant and new mothers who are battling substance use disorders. 

WellSpan Foundations Pregnancy Support Services, which was first funded in 2019, offers case management services to provide coordinated, comprehensive and nonjudgmental care for women with addiction and

 their children. The support is available for up to nine months before delivery and 18 months after delivery. This grant allows the program to expand to include women with addictions to prescription and non-prescription substances such as opioids, cocaine, Xanax among other illicit substances.

“WellSpan is very grateful for the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs grant not only because it will help us expand the program for women with addictions to include substances in addition to opioids, but that it also recognizes the great results the WellSpan Foundations Pregnancy Support Services team has achieved to date,” said Chris Echterling, medical director of vulnerable populations, WellSpan Health.

To date, Foundations program’s achievements include:

  • 97% of women enrolled for at least six months have remained abstinent from illicit opioids
  • 76% of patients remain engaged during their postpartum period with Foundations 
  • 248 days is the average length of engagement in the program 
  • 71% of women attend postpartum follow-up care

The program assists both the women and the new baby. Foundations offers access to medication-assisted treatment, which uses medications to treat people who have substance use disorders. It also offers recovery support, connection to prenatal and post-partum care, pediatric care, and social service referrals for food, housing, transportation and other needs beyond traditional resources. To help build healthy families, the program assists moms with referrals to childcare, early intervention programs and parenting classes, as well as GED classes.

It also can help provide some newborn essentials like diapers, wipes, clothes and formula.

The program, which empowers mothers and their children for resilient futures, is currently serving 143 women across every county in South Central Pennsylvania. A portion of the new grant, which runs through March 14, 2023, will allow WellSpan to hire additional support staff such as community health workers, social workers, and a health coach across its footprint to expand the number of women supported. 

Moms are referred to the program from WellSpan emergency departments and maternity departments, social workers or other support staff for pregnant or new moms. Those interested in support can also reach out directly at 717-812-MOMS.

“The moms supported by the WellSpan Foundations program are just like other moms – they want the best for their children,” Echterling said. “We believe this program will have an impact that will reach decades

 into the future.” 

The pregnancy and post-partum grant is part of more than $12 million in funding awarded by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in October to improve outcomes for individuals in recovery from substance-use disorder.

 WellSpan also has received grants to support medication-assisted treatment for people with opioid use disorder across Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. The grants support increased access to treatment and recovery support for those patients.