Born 15 weeks premature, Gianna Matos weighed less than two pounds when her care began at Women & Infants Hospital's Carter Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). After 111 days of being cared for by the NICU staff, Gianna weighed three times her birth weight and no longer relied on oxygen therapy. She was ready to go home.
It was a joyous day for her mother, Ashley Peoples. It was also a frightening day for the first-time parent. "When we first got home, I would literally stand over her crib and watch her sleep to make sure she was breathing," recalls Ashley, a Pawtucket resident. "It was also scary not knowing whether she was developing, growing or eating like she supposed to."
Fortunately for Ashley and hundreds of other Rhode Island families, Women & Infants' care goes beyond the day of patient discharge. The Transition Home Plus (THP) program assists low-income families of the most vulnerable premature infants – those with birth weights of less than 3.5 pounds – who are at greater risk of medical, behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems.
By providing preventive transition support and education for infants and families, including visits to the home, THP has helped reduce the need for emergency room visits and rehospitalizations after the infants leave the NICU. This innovative program recently expanded greatly thanks to a generous $97,000 grant from CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. The grant will allow the hospital to make these critical services available to families residing in Massachusetts as well.
CVS Caremark Charitable Trust has strong ties to THP. In 2007, it played an essential role in developing the program by giving a grant to provide the service to low-income Rhode Islanders. Serving Massachusetts residents was a natural progression for this program and CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, as more than 25 percent of the 1,300 infants cared for in the NICU each year are from Massachusetts. "All of the nonprofit organizations we support share our commitment to providing greater access to health care and medical services and improving the lives of children with disabilities," says Eileen Howard Boone, vice president, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. "The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust is honored to work with Women & Infants and all of its nonprofit partners to help people on their path to better health."
Betty Vohr, MD, director of the Transition Home Plus program, says, "We are grateful to CVS Caremark Charitable Trust for their incredible commitment and support for this program." Dr. Vohr was recently honored to be named one of 74 national experts selected as an Innovation Advisor for the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. At the heart of THP is a dedicated multidisciplinary team of physicians, social workers, neonatologists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, occupational therapists, pulmonologists and parent consultants.
Ashley Peoples said the program went beyond monitoring her daughter's health and development, and provided advice on feeding techniques, donations of diapers and also helped resolve insurance issues related to her daughter's medications. "This is such an important community resource run by such compassionate people. I am so grateful that it is available," says Ashley.
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