We propose to develop a community partnership consisting of patients, researchers, and providers that deliver care and services to opiate-addicted mothers and their infants. The Tampa Bay Region has the largest number of opiate-exposed births in Florida, representing 400 of 1,800 opiate-exposed births in 2013—a fivefold increase over the past 10 years. This partnership will be created through monthly meetings to develop:
1. A communication and governance structure
2. A strategic plan to identify strategies to prevent neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a narcotic withdrawal disorder affecting digestive, breathing, and nervous systems of newborn babies
Pinellas County is one of the four counties that compose the Tampa Bay Region and is the targeted geographic area for this partnership. The University of South Florida will begin by building partnerships with the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas County, a home visitation program for pregnant women and infants; the three hospitals in Pinellas County that provide care to the mothers and infants through their neonatal intensive care units; Operation PAR, Inc., the primary methadone clinic serving Pinellas County; the Pinellas County Public Health Department; and patient stakeholders. Currently, these groups informally communicate through referrals and individual relationships, but a formal structure has not been developed to target prevention of NAS. By facilitating community collaboration among the various groups that provide a complex web of care and support services to these women and their infants, we can better understand the opportunities for preventing and reducing NAS.