Northern Light Health to receive share of $5.3M federal grant to help mothers and babies affected by Opioid Crisis

Date: 01/28/2020

Maine DHHS announced on January 7 that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded the grant money to Maine and nine other states to participate in the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) model, which aims to improve care for pregnant and postpartum women with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and their infants.

Under the model, Maine will take steps to create a statewide system of evidence-based and comprehensive care for women with substance use disorders through MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid health coverage program for low-income residents. The goal is to increase access to high-quality treatment and reduce costs while better coordinating and integrating care.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Office of MaineCare Services will collaborate with Northern Light Health and five other healthcare delivery partners, including MaineGeneral Medical Center, MaineHealth, Mid Coast-Parkview Hospital, Penobscot Community Health Care, and Pines Health Services.

“Northern Light Health and many of its member hospitals have developed innovative programs to address the opioid epidemic, and this funding can go a long way to enhance what we are already offering,” explains Lisa Harvey-McPherson, RN, MBA, MPPM, vice president Government Relations.

For example, advancements in assessment and treatment of babies born exposed to opioids at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center involve using fewer medications and adopting a new assessment tool called Eat, Sleep, Console, or ESC.  The goal in treating babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is to use less medication so the baby can be discharged sooner and cared for at home. The other part of this treatment philosophy is to allow the birth mother to take a more proactive role in the treatment of her child.

This established approach fits into critical components of the MOM model which includes creating a “no wrong door” system to screening, welcoming, and engaging women in care; supporting the treatment and recovery of mothers with group-based medication-assisted treatment; increasing the capacity of integrated care teams to deliver evidence-based care, including through telehealth; coordinating delivery, hospital, and post-partum care for mothers and infants; enhancing home visiting and community supports, and conducting a public outreach campaign.

 By the third year of this initiative, DHHS plans to have established a sustainable way to fund through MaineCare the services necessary to support this care model moving forward.

The grant period is for five years, and DHHS anticipates expanding to additional sites over that time. NLH leadership has begun to develop a team of clinical and administrative representatives across the system to help organize the anticipated work to operationalize the grant and will use the existing Women’s Health Service Line Advisory Council for guidance.