New parents have many questions. And often they can feel alone. A new program links local paramedics, physicians and community resources to new parents in the Crawfordsville area to assist through the whirlwhind of a new baby.
Named Project Swaddle, the program connects community paramedics with social services, OBGYNs and nurses for resources during pregnancy and after the baby's delivery. The patients – ranging from women in their first trimester of pregnancy to several who have already delivered – are receiving additional care and resources from community paramedics from the Crawfordsville Fire Department.
"No one in the country is delivering this type of care for this at-risk population," said Paul Miller, division chief of EMS for Crawfordsville Fire Department.
Franciscan Health's Paramedicine Program launched Project Swaddle in April 2018. As of July, there were 15 patients in the program. In the short amount of time since launching, Project Swaddle has worked with families dealing with drug addiction, lack of social support and domestic violence to postpartum issues of failure to thrive and lactation.
"The highest-risk moms – women who don't have access to care and resources or support from their family and friends – are the hardest to navigate," Miller said. "We've gained so much trust with our patients."
As part of the project, Darren Forman, community paramedic with Crawfordsville Fire Department. Forman is the main community paramedic assigned to Project Swaddle, is allowed to transport participants to doctor’s visits and provide updates to the OBGYNs and other care providers. The contacts include telehealth check-ins and phone calls. After a patient delivers, Forman follows up with the mom and baby for 16 weeks. He will continue to refer to proper services. If a mom or anyone in the household smokes but is willing to enroll in the "Baby & Me & Tobacco Free" and quit smoking, there is a one-year follow up.
To qualify for Project Swaddle, a patient must be referred by a social service agency or a physician or the Franciscan Accountable Care Organization. They will be reviewed to see what type of prenatal and postpartum care they are eligible for through other programs. If they do qualify for Project Swaddle, an appointment is made between 24 and 48 hours. "Our goal is to start prenatal care as soon as possible," said Miller.
Miller works with Scott Sinnott, MD, medical director of the OBGYN program for Community Paramedicine, and his colleagues Jon Hoversland, MD, Katie Towles, MD, and advanced practice provider Carie Mondero, CNM, at Franciscan Physician Network Obstetrics & Gynecology Crawfordsville on a regular basis. Forman provides frequent updates to the providers, and if needed, can contact them 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.
"Our patients are very enthusiastic about the program and most accept the program willingly," said Dr. Sinnott. "We have seen an immediate positive impact on patient/baby outcomes. It allows for more direct care and certainly has helped avoid missed appointment, missed medications and more. These visits are very important to deliver adequate prenatal care to high-risk patients."
"Part of the support of the Project Swaddle program is to support the parents," Forman said. "My phone rings with calls and texts at all hours of the day."
According to Forman one of the great aspects of Project Swaddle is breaking down the barriers, establishing relationships and providing care to a high-risk population.
"They are high-risk patients both socially and medically," said Forman. "If it's an emergency to you, then it's an emergency to me."
Because he is around the families on a regular basis and helping them receive care, he becomes an extended member of the family.
"I received texts from three of the families wishing me a Happy Father's Day," Forman said.
But that's not just all. From a medical standpoint, Forman sees how this program is already benefiting the community.
"I can already see the long-term benefits of the program," said Forman. "We are providing full-term prenatal care. I can see the potential neonatal intensive care unit avoidance. We're also looking forward to working with other providers and collaborate more."
Patients can be referred to the program through OBGYN visits, physician offices, the ER, WIC, Women's Resource Center in Crawfordsville or other social service agencies.
For more information on Project Swaddle, please call Cortney Riley, ACO Clinical Case Coordinator at Franciscan Health, at (765) 430-8759.