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The Bridge Program at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is an effort to meet the needs of moms who are experiencing a high risk pregnancy with the possibility of fetal demise, perinatal surgical intervention, and/or prolonged NICU stay after delivery. The goal of the Bridge program is to ensure that pregnant moms and their families are fully educated on their infants’ diagnoses and the associated risks, what a NICU stay entails, and that end-of-life plans (if appropriate) are made prior to delivery.

In order to achieve our goals, the care team (Neonatal-Perinatal physicians and Bridge nurses) works closely with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) clinic at USA throughout the pregnancy. The Bridge nurses attend each high risk appointment with the mothers, arrange counseling and connect them to community support resources, and help create a plan for delivery and infant aftercare. A Bridge nurse attends the deliveries of babies they are following and remains a support person for the family throughout the hospital stay and beyond.

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Bridge Program Care Team

Lethal anomalies are a very small proportion of the high risk pregnancies followed and supported through this program. Diagnoses referred to the program include:

  • Fetal heart defects
  • Renal agenesis & other genitourinary abnormalities
  • Gastroschisis/omphalocele
  • Fetal hydrops
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Skeletal dysplasias
  • Chromosomal abnormalities including trisomy 13, 18, and 21
  • Brain/neural tube defects
  • Maternal mental illness/intellectual delay
  • History of multiple fetal losses

A Bridge support group has been started to allow these families to meet and share their stories and additional support groups are in the works. When possible, mothers are paired with another family who has gone through the same experience in order to provide an even deeper and powerful level of support and education.

This program is currently funded by private, tax-deductible donations. The donated funds are being used to buy equipment, educational literature, help with infant funeral expenses and family counseling. Community organizations are also donating time, services, and various materials.

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