Providence St. Joe’s wins Innovation in Health Care award

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Dr. Emily Hall, left, and Dr. Jamie Straub are part of the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center team that earned the 2018 Innovation in Health Care award for their Bridge of Hope program. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

High acclaim has come often to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC) in Polson, and the facility was proud to recently receive the Montana Hospital Association 2018 Innovation in Health Care award, based on their progress and positivity of the Bridge of Hope program.

SJMC was one of 12 applicants for the prestigious award, and they came from some of the 100 members of the association.

There are a number of prime-time players in the Bridge of Hope program, led by the hospital’s pediatrician, Dr. Emily Hall. Jennifer Terry, LPN, is Hall’s nurse. Other key personnel include Dr. Jamie Straub, OB-GYN; Tera Sperry, RN; and Katie Bateman, LCPC (licensed clinical professional counselor).

“This is great recognition for a program that is very innovative,” Straub said the day SJMC was presented with the award.

THROUGH BRIDGE OF HOPE, SJMC provides support for mothers living on the Flathead Reservation whose newborns are experiencing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). A program of 10 maternity support sessions — Bridge of Hope — is being conducted by an addiction counselor in partnership with a pediatrician (Dr. Hall) and nursing staff while the newborns are hospitalized for NAS treatment.

The program is designed to: 1) reduced the rate of maternal-infant separation in the hospital setting as a result of NAS treatment; 2) engaging addicted mothers in the care of their infant through bonding sessions; 3) increase addicted mothers’ voluntary participation in area drug treatment programs by the time their infants’ discharge; and 4) develop and affirm maternal coping skills.

Bridge of Hope premiered in September 2017, thanks to a Montana Healthcare Foundation grant that funded the program for 12 months.

THE PROJECT is supported by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe and Wrapped in Hope staff at SJMC who work with women impacted by substance abuse during and after pregnancy.

“All services here have a counseling component,” Bateman said.

Hall came to SJMC about three years ago.

“I think it was recognized early on that in our community we have a fair number of young infants and children who need special care, or would benefit from a pediatric specialist to be involved in their health,” Hall said.

When she first arrived, she began working with non-profit organizations as well as county health, tribal health, and St. Luke Community Healthcare.

“There is a lot of community focus and community work on how do we better support families in our community and struggling with addition,” Hall said, “Being a parent, both mother and father and grandparents and extended family are all affected by our relatively high drug use rate in our county.”

According to Hall, one of the big things in that is the Raft in Hope project has been “such a remarkable collaboration” with St. Luke’s, Tribal Health and St. Joe’s.

“Providence-St. Joe’s has really worked to fill the community needs. They were really supportive in trying to navigate how to implement a program such as this and make that work financially here,” Hall said, and there has been support from Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester and others.

“This is a different role for out OB nurses, giving more infant care,” she said. “We all learned a lot in the process and have been really proud to serve the community.”

Hall has hopes that Bridge of Hope will continue, and it’s doing so now with financial support through Providence-St. Joe’s.

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