ATLANTA — Four healthcare providers at the University of Kentucky (UK) created the Perinatal Assistance and Treatment Home (PATHways), an intervention model presented at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit for its preliminary achievements in comprehensive treatment programs designed for pregnant women with opioid use disorder.
PATHways provides medical treatment and a support network to expectant mothers with opioid use disorder as it prepares them for motherhood. The program:
- Integrates evidence-based knowledge through a comprehensive approach to perinatal opioid use disorder
- Offers buprenorphine maintenance treatment for opioid use disorders, including neonatal abstinence syndrome
- Brings peer support and education, legal support and prenatal and post-natal health services
Kristin Ashford, assistant dean of research in the UK College of Nursing, Agatha Critchfield, a UK HealthCare obstetrician, Michelle Lofwall, an addiction medicine psychiatrist in the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and Lori Shook, a neonatologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital created and have overseen this program for pregnant women with opioid use disorder that has served more than 150 women since 2014.
According to UK News, 77 percent of PATHways participants were admitted to labor and delivery testing negative for all illicit drug use.
The researchers also found a connection between attending prenatal sessions and illicit drug use. For each session attended, a program participant was 13 to 18 percent more likely to have a negative illicit drug urine test upon delivery or at a follow up appointment.
The organic development of this program illustrates that you don’t need a large organization with many players to make a big difference in the health of this vulnerable population,” said Sharon Walsh, director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and moderator of the summit session in Atlanta.
Perinatal nurse facilitators bind the intervention model, according to the PATHways team. They educate, navigate and advocate for pregnant women with opioid use disorder participating in the program.
“Linking nurse navigation with nurse-led group care and medication therapy is really what makes the program special,” Ashford said at the summit.