In 2017, Capital Health asked Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton to partner with them to help create a ground-breaking program to help pregnant women and new mothers recover from addiction. The collaboration includes several other partners to ensure that every need of these women is met, including: hospital care, housing, medication, childcare, legal aid, and basic everyday needs such as clothing and diapers. The goal of For My Baby and Me is to help women recover from their addiction by providing wraparound services and using medication-assisted treatment and counseling so they can provide their child with a stable family life.
Four years and 100 moms later, the program is going strong and prideful of this milestone. “We are so blessed to be partnered with Capital Health, HomeFront, Henry J. Austin Health Center, Rescue Mission of Trenton and Trenton Health Team,” said Lisa Merritt, Chief Nurse Executive. “With their help, we can provide every component of recovery that a new mom would need.”
One of the incredible aspects of this program is how accessible getting help is – a woman places a call to the hotline, a specialist explains the program, a pick up service is offered, and the mom is transported to Catholic Charities in Trenton to begin her one-year journey to wellness.
Support from the Community is Key
Merritt said one of the biggest challenges was helping the women overcome the stigma that is associated with their condition and having them understand that if they have a setback with their recovery that they are not a failure. Another challenge is the need for supplies. “All of our supplies come from donations. With 13 moms and several babies in the program right now, imagine the number of diapers, baby wipes, and clothes that are needed, not to mention, the bigger ticket items like strollers and car seats,” she said. “But we’re very fortunate to have amazing donors who consistently check in with us and ask what we need.”
For the other challenges that the moms are facing, Merritt credits the team and the medical staff. “We teach foundational tools to overcome some of the barriers to recovery – in a judgement free environment. These women already feel the shame and indignity that comes with the territory of their circumstances – not just societally, but from family and friends. We certainly don’t need to add to that.”
Having served 100 moms, the program administrators have been able to collect and analyze data. They have discovered if a woman enrolls in the program prior to delivery, the length of hospital stay for their baby is considerably shorter. In fact, 71% of the babies were discharged along with their mothers. “The moms always want their babies to go home with them – so it’s important to encourage early enrollment,” said Merritt.
Merritt and the team are enthusiastic by the success of this program and hope it continues to be funded for years to come. “I can’t wait to serve the next 100 moms and 100 more and 100 more…” said Merritt.
FOR INFORMATION about the For My Baby and Me program, call Lisa Merritt, Chief Nurse Executive, at (609) 396–4557, ext. 2445.
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