Losing a loved one is difficult, but the prospect of losing a child is particularly excruciating.
That’s what families who face a high-risk pregnancy may experience. The new Bridge Program at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is designed to meet their needs.
While up to 40 percent of deliveries at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital are considered high-risk, not all patients are a part of the program. The program supports pregnant patients struggling with fetal anomalies, which are conditions that affect a fetus or embryo and may be fatal or cause ongoing health issues after birth. These conditions include fetal heart defects, skeletal dysplasia, chromosomal abnormalities, and brain/neural tube defects.
Bridge Program Care Team
A high-risk pregnancy also may require surgical intervention or a prolonged NICU stay for the baby after delivery. The goal of the Bridge Program is to ensure that pregnant patients and their families are fully educated on their infant’s diagnosis and the associated risks, what a NICU stay entails, and if necessary, end-of-life plans.
The Care Team, which includes Neonatal-Perinatal (NICU) physicians and Bridge nurses, get involved at various stages and work closely with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) physicians at USA Health throughout the pregnancy. The nurses attend each high-risk appointment with the patient, arrange counseling, connect patients and families to community support resources, and help create a plan for delivery and infant aftercare. They attend the patient’s delivery and remain a support person throughout the hospital stay and beyond. The Bridge Program also provides a support group to allow these families to meet and share their stories, particularly those who have a history of multiple fetal losses.
There is a growing need for the services the Bridge Program offers, but not enough funding to keep up. Expenses include purchasing specialized equipment and educational literature, as well as covering the cost of grief counseling, funeral expenses, and food and resources for support groups.
To make a tax-deductible donation or learn more about how you can support this special program, contact the Hospital Development Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 251-415-1636, or donate online.
For more information on the Bridge Program, contact Rene Sprague at email@example.com.
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