By Mark Powell
How an Office Calendar Exposed a Barrier to Treatment for Pregnant Woman
An office calendar can reveal surprising secrets. One day in 2013, Dr. Julie Frew looked at her schedule and noticed something disturbing. She is director of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Addiction Treatment Program at Lebanon’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and what she saw troubled her. Pregnant women receiving addiction treatment weren’t showing up for their prenatal appointments. So she began asking questions.
“It was difficult for women in recovery,” she explains. “They were missing a lot of prenatal visits. We wanted to support these women and provide tightly coordinated care.”
A big part of the problem was expectant women had to travel to different locations to receive prenatal and addiction care. So Dr. Frew decided to try something different.
Moms in Recovery put everything under one roof. Starting small in 2013 with just a midwife, an addiction clinician, and a psychiatrist, the program provided prenatal care and medication-assisted treatment to five women.
Since then, Moms in Recovery has grown substantially. It now offers childcare, an on-site food pantry, a diaper bank, donated baby items, a peer recovery coach, case management and a pediatrician who comes in monthly for child wellness checkups and to administer immunizations to the mothers and their children. It provides a unified approach, different disciplines can offer individualized care and ensures moms get the support they need. “Collaboration and family are at the heart of it. It’s building out the model and putting care coordination in place to connect the dots,” says Pediatrician Dr. Steven Chapman.
Time in the program varies. Moms in Recovery provides support to women who are pregnant up until the children reach school age. “We don’t ask women to leave just because they had their baby. We want to keep the door open and support women not only in being parents but also being people in recovery,” says Dr. Goodman.
“The patient-centered approach to care allows for the women to support and encourage each other,” adds Dr. Frew. Daisy Goodman agrees with her saying, “They come for each other more than anything.”
Moms in Recovery proves the simplest solutions can sometimes produce the biggest results.
Moms in Recovery was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.
J. Mark Powell is an author, former network journalist, and veteran communications expert.