Caring for Opioid-Addicted Babies

by Jennefer Frost – Hacienda Children’s Hospital, Administrator and Director of Nursing

Seeing a child go home for the first time after being in the hospital since birth really is something special.  Parents often envision taking their baby home from the hospital, typically a day or two after they are born. They pick out an outfit and get their car seat all ready to go. They often are not prepared to leave the hospital without their precious child in their arms, and they can’t even fathom the weeks and sometimes months it will be before their child is actually ready to go home.

Every 19 minutes, a baby is born addicted to opioids in the US. [1]

Hacienda Children’s Hospital’s Drug Dependent Newborn Program provides treatment and management to infants who suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Without specialized care, these babies face a lifetime of challenges.

We provide a safe, loving environment while these babies go through withdrawal and treatment until they are ready to go for the first time.

Kathleen Clark is our Case Manager and Discharge Coordinator and she has made many of these “first times” happen for our parents. She works hard to make sure that every resource is available to the families and that they have all the support they need in order to be successful at home.  Our neonatologists and specially trained nurses care for and follow the specific treatment of each baby to reduce their time in the hospital. Working with families, our nurses make sure they are trained and educated on the care and patience their baby will require so that moms and dads (grandmas and grandpas) are comfortable in the caring for that baby – so that going home can be the joyous occasion it should be.


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