The goal of the study is to help determine how to better care for women who take part in the Bridge Program.

Published Jan 15th, 2020

By Brittany Otis

botis@health.southalabama.edu

The USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital’s Bridge Program, which provides support for the families of babies struggling with serious medical conditions, was the inspiration for a research study in a national journal. The goal of the study is to help determine how to better care for women who take part in the Bridge Program.

The Bridge Program, created by Rene Sprague, RN, MSN, with USA Health, provides women experiencing high-risk pregnancies vital information before, during and after delivery to better care for their newborns.

An article titled “Women and Infants in the Deep South Receiving Perinatal and Neonatal Palliative and Supportive Care Services” was recently selected by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses to appear in the Advances in Neonatal Care journal. The authors are Sprague and Sara Davis, Ph.D., RN, an assistant professor of nursing and a researcher at the University of South Alabama College of Nursing, who also served as principal investigator.

Their findings will be published in the May issue of the peer-reviewed journal.

Research was conducted on more than 130 former Bridge patients over a year. Their findings detail that some women receive a lack of information when struggling with high-risk pregnancies – which stresses the need for support groups, such as the Bridge Program, on the upper Gulf Coast. The article explores howsociodemographic factors, such as age and race, may contribute to the problem.

The research outlines that at-risk women and infants need to be enrolled in supportive care programs early in pregnancy, regardless of sociodemographic factors.

“When starting this project, we looked at Alabama and Mississippi – two states that have high prenatal and maternal mortality rates -- and discovered that if women received more support and information during their high-risk pregnancies it could help improve access to supportive care and hospice services,” said Davis. “We took that data and conducted research on the patients of the Bridge Program and created one of our goals when writing the article and that’s to better educate women through support programs.”

“Women who’ve had multiple miscarriages, placenta complications or who’ve lost a child after birth are welcome to be a part of the Bridge Program to get help,” Sprague said. “The research from this project lets us know who our patients are and how to better care for them.”

Charles Harmon, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and neonatologist, Bridget Moore, DNP, both with USA Health and Brady Baker, MSN, at the USA College of Nursing, also assisted on the project.

The Bridge Program is offered at Children’s & Women’s Hospital. As part of the program, nurses attend each high-risk appointment with the patient, arrange counseling and help create a plan for delivery and infant aftercare.

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