(by Jeff Cohen, WNPR for Kaiser Health News)
HARTFORD, Conn. — Carolyn Rossi has been a nurse for 27 years, and she’s been fiercely protective of infants in her intensive care unit — babies born too soon, babies born with defects and, increasingly, babies born dependent on opioids.
Rossi works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Hospital of Central Connecticut near Hartford. Like many hospitals across the country, it has seen the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome go up dramatically in recent years. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports more than 21,000 infants in the U.S. were born in withdrawal from opioids in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. The hospital says each baby costs roughly $50,000 to treat.
These fragile and fitful babies present new challenges for hospitals. There’s research that suggests they may do best when they can be held for hours, by their mothers, in a quiet, private room as they go through the process of being weaned off the drugs. But delivering that care means changing hospital systems and attitudes about addiction among doctors and nurses. Read article here…..
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