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July 5, 2018, Henderson, Nevada – Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals announced the launch of a new program designed to help pregnant mothers battling addiction. Empowering Mothers for Positive Outcomes With Education, Recovery, and Early Development (EMPOWERED) is designed to help mothers whose children may suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as a result of medicine, drugs, nicotine, alcohol, and other substances used by the mother during pregnancy.

EMPOWERED will create a continuum of care for both mother and baby, with support and resources available during prenatal, postpartum, and early childhood development. 

“Opioid addiction, and substance abuse in general, is a real battle that many struggle to overcome, including pregnant mothers,” said Dr. Deepa Nagar, neonatologist with Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican’s Siena Campus. “Without proper intervention, many of the babies are born with significant addictions themselves and the withdrawal from the drugs is a very serious challenge. Through EMPOWERED, we are hoping to not only change the life of the baby, but also its mother by providing the right kind of medical intervention and support to help ensure a healthy life – free from addiction.”

Once screened by an OB/GYN, a mother who tests positive for opioid or other substance usage will be referred to a substance abuse coordinator. Should that patient be willing to accept help, she will be screened for mental health issues and will receive a referral for treatment, if necessary. 

The mother will also be supported throughout her pregnancy in a number of ways through St. Rose’s Outreach Centers: group peer support, lactation support, parenting classes, and education on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). NAS refers to the symptoms that babies may experience when withdrawing from contact with opiates, stimulants, sedatives, alcohol, and some antidepressants. 

Because the mother is part of EMPOWERED, her physicians will be ready for the delivery of her child and any medical issues the child may face upon delivery. The baby will be monitored after birth in the NICUs at Siena and San Martin Hospitals, as well as upon discharge by pediatricians at Dignity Health Mental Group.

EMPOWERED was made possible through the grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

As the community’s only not-for-profit, faith-based health system, Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican has been guided by the vision and core values of the Adrian Dominican Sisters for 70 years. As the Henderson and Las Vegas communities grow, the St. Rose Dominican health system and its nearly 4,000 employees will continue the Sisters’ mission of serving people in need.

Feature photo: Attending the launching of EMPOWER are, from left: Larry Barnard, President of the San Martin Campus of Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals; Richard Whitley, Director of Nevada Health and Human Services; Sister Phyllis Sikora, OP, Service Area Vice President of Mission; Adam Laxalt, Nevada Attorney General; Dr. Andria Peterson; and Dr. Deepa Nagar, Medical Director of the Natal Intensive Care Unit. Photo Courtesy of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals 


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