WMHS recognized for care for drug-exposed infants

CUMBERLAND, Md. — After a two-year collaborative effort through the Maryland Safety Patient Council, the staff of the Western Maryland Health System Labor and Delivery, Postpartum and Nursery has some new recognition to display.

WMHS was recently recognized for completing the NAS initiative, which teaches standardized care for infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. The syndrome is a group of conditions that occur when babies withdraw from drugs that they were exposed to in the womb.

Sixty-six MWHS staff members underwent specialized computer training dealing with medication, withdraw situations and overall treatment during a baby’s stay in the hospital.

WMHS was one of 32 hospitals in the state to take the training. As a result, progress has occurred in several areas, including a reduction in average days of therapy from 14 to 11 and length of hospital stay from 19 days to 16. In addition to the reduction of cost and days spent at the hospital, the standardization makes the overall experience easier on the families of the infant patient.

“It taught us the best practice to take care of these babies,” Charge Nurse Terri Crawford said in a news release. “We’ve seen a real difference. The training involved makes the parents a bigger part of the treatment for the baby.”

In order to qualify for the NAS banner, 85 percent of staff must take the training.

“We are proud to say that we had 91 percent participation,” Crawford said. “To have that number comply is just awesome.”

The knowledge the staff now shares allows for continuity even as staffing changes during a family’s stay in the hospital.

“We are very proud. It is a real privilege to work with so many who are this dedicated to caring for these patients in our community,” Crawford added.

Western Maryland Health System was formed in 1996 to strengthen the healthcare services in Western Maryland and the surrounding communities in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In November 2009, WMHS opened a new hospital in Cumberland, Md.