Mercy Receives Grant to Help Substance-exposed Newborns and Their Caregivers

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center is one of five Massachusetts hospitals selected to receive grant funding from the Health Policy Commission (HPC) for a program designed to improve the care provided to substance-exposed newborns and their caregivers.

The Cost-Effective, Coordinated Care for Caregivers and Substance Exposed Newborns (C4SEN) Investment Program is a new grant opportunity that aims to develop innovative care models that promote collaboration among appropriate providers to better coordinate care delivery to ensure access to high-quality, efficient, and culturally sensitive care — including addiction treatment — for both substance-exposed newborns (SEN) and their caregivers during their period of highest risk.

“Through the C4SEN program, the HPC is targeting much-needed resources for the most at-need patients, communities, and healthcare providers,” said David Seltz, HPC executive director. “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need to invest in behavioral-healthcare services, and, through this funding, we are supporting these five community hospitals as they provide culturally competent care for substance-exposed newborns and their caregivers. The HPC is thrilled to work with our awardees to expand access to comprehensive postpartum and newborn care across the Commonwealth.”

Mercy Medical Center will use the $300,000 grant to leverage technology to establish new clinical pathways and a care-coordination model to streamline the provision of existing services for the target population. Using Mercy’s Family Life Center for Maternity as a nexus point, the grant will also support cross-disciplinary collaboration among providers affiliated with Mercy whose work intersects with the treatment of substance-use disorder for pregnant and postpartum women and their newborns.

Prior to applying for the C4SEN grant, Mercy convened an ad hoc working group of physicians, nurses, clinic managers, social workers, care coordinators, behavioral-health specialists, and administrators whose work involves providing care to patients with substance-use disorder. The group, while providing insight into the scope of available services and the efficacy of current care-coordination efforts, agreed about the need and commitment to find new ways to work together, share information, and better coordinate services so as to best support SEN and their caregivers.

“We are grateful to the Health Policy Commission for supporting our efforts. This grant will allow us to set up new ways devoted to tracking care for these high-risk newborns and their caregivers across the entire hospital system, resulting in a more integrated patient experience,” said Dr. Robert Roose, chief medical officer for Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. “At the same time, it will enable providers, regardless of setting or location, to coordinate patient care more effectively and to facilitate referrals and follow-up, which in turn will contribute to the long-term effectiveness of substance-use disorder treatment.”

In addition to Mercy Medical Center, the HPC has also awarded grants through the C4SEN program to Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Berkshire Medical Center, Southcoast Hospitals, and South Shore Hospital.