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Opioids Settlement Helps Care for New Mothers, Families

Funds Will Help Provide Peer Recovery Specialist for Women's Health and Childbirth Center

The Women’s Health and Childbirth Center at Alton Memorial Hospital delivers more than 700 babies each year. Thanks to a successful grant request in May, the hospital is receiving more than $73,000 this year to help pregnant and postpartum women who may be facing health inequities due to social and economic factors.

Alton Memorial is one of five organizations part of a Madison County settlement with various opioid distributors that could result in the organizations receiving up to $3.7 million  over the next 18 years.

“The funds are to address and alleviate some of the effects Madison County has experienced related to the opioid epidemic,” said Meredith Parker, manager of Clinical Services for the AMH Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. “Our department will form a partnership with the Women’s Health and Childbirth Center, with the goal of improving the overall health of perinatal and postpartum patients identified with an opioid use, substance use or other co-occurring disorder.”

Specifically, the plan is to use the funds to hire an additional peer recovery specialist in the Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine to focus exclusively on needs in the Women’s Health and Childbirth Center. This staff member will, according to the grant, “provide universal screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment on all patients who present to this department.”

The peer recovery specialist will screen for social determinants of health (SDOH) such as mental health issues, substance abuse, food insecurity and housing instability. Based on the results of the screenings, the staff member will provide interventions and care coordination as needed.

“The peer recovery specialist will follow each patient for a minimum of three months and up to a year, depending upon the patients’ needs and clinical presentation, providing support, case management, linkage to treatment and other community resources,” Parker said. “Jessica Mossman and Renee Strowmatt from obstetrics have been wonderful in this, and we’re also blessed to have Dr. Christine Taylor (an ob/gyn on the AMH medical staff) serve as a partner. The more you know about your patients, the better you can treat them.”

According to the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative (ILPQC), overdose is the leading cause of maternal death in Illinois. Between 2008 and 2017, pregnancy-associated deaths from opioid poisoning increased tenfold. Mothers with substance use disorders often have inadequate prenatal care, attend fewer prenatal visits, have poorer nutrition compared to those without substance use disorders and have higher rates of birth complications. Substance use disorders among pregnant women are linked to preterm birth, low birth weight and higher rates of NICU admissions.

“Jessica and I recently attended a conference with ILPQC where a 2023 goal of bringing birth equity to the bedside was presented,” said Renee Strowmatt, educator for the Women’s Health and Childbirth Center. “We know significant racial disparities in health outcomes exist for our pregnant and postpartum patients. This grant will help streamline the process of obtaining social determinants of health in our birthing patients, which will reduce maternal disparities, promote equity and improve the overall outcomes of our patients and their babies.”

The other Madison County agencies benefiting from the settlement are AMARE, a recovery community organization; the Madison County Sheriff’s Office; Chestnut Health Systems; and Jewell Psychological Services Consulting.

“These initial grants will allow the recipients to provide critical, much-needed services,” said Madison County Mental Health Board director Deborah Humphrey. “The services of these community partners will help mitigate the harms caused by the opioid epidemic.”

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine said that he’s glad the additional funds are now available.

“These wonderful groups were already doing great work to help those affected by our ongoing opioid abuse epidemic,” Haine said. “There is so much to do, and every little bit helps.”

Pictured above: Part of the team involved in getting the grant at Alton Memorial Hospital includes, left to right, Jessica Mossman, manager of the Women’s Health and Childbirth Center; Meredith Parker, manager of Clinical Services for the AMH Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine; Dr. Christine Taylor, OB/GYN for Alton OB/GYN Associates and a member of the AMH medical staff; and Renee Strowmatt, educator for the WHCC.

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 618.463.7220 or 800.392.0936
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Alton Memorial Hospital
One Memorial Drive
Alton, Illinois 62002

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