JOHNSON CITY (May 28, 2013) – Two faculty members from the East Tennessee State University Department of Pediatrics helped highlight the progress being made to improve infant and maternal health in Tennessee at a statewide conference.
A wide-ranging group of more than 350 stakeholders – including physicians, nurses and hospital administrators – attended the annual meeting of the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) in Franklin. TIPQC is funded by a grant from the State of Tennessee through the Department of Health.
Dr. Mike DeVoe, director of Neonatology and interim chair of the ETSU Department of Pediatrics, and Dr. Karen Schetzina, an associate professor of Pediatrics and director of Community Pediatrics Research at ETSU’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine, have led the development of TIPQC initiatives and participated in the conference. Devoe is on the state oversight committee for TIPQC and Schetzina is a statewide leader for the TIPQC Breastfeeding Promotion in the Hospital project.
The three-day program featured sessions on maternal and child health issues and quality improvement projects. The attendees, including leaders from the Vermont Oxford Network State Collaborative – an organization with members from 10 states – were able to sharpen their projects and objectives through collaborative sharing, benchmarking and learning from national and state experts. New statewide TIPQC projects were also selected.
Danielle Moze, neonatal dietitian with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Perinatal Center, shared a report on efforts to increase the amount of breast milk consumption by infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.
“The NICU at Niswonger Children’s Hospital recognized the importance of human milk in improving the health and protecting the lives of our critically ill infants,” Moze said. “We were eager to join the TIPQC Human Milk 4 NICU project. Since starting the project in 2011, we have seen a dramatic increase in mothers providing their own milk for their infants admitted to the NICU. TIPQC has been instrumental in helping us achieve this goal.”
The Neonatalogy Division at Quillen partners with Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which treats over 400 patients each year in its NICU.
“Other projects our center is participating in include infection reduction in the NICU, outpatient follow-up of NICU ‘graduates,’ and neonatal abstinence care for hospitalized newborns,” Devoe said.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a group of problems that may occur in babies born to mothers who take narcotics or other addictive drugs during pregnancy. Prior to the conference, TIPQC unveiled a new program, the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Project, to address issues related to infants who are born with drug addiction.
Schetzina said that although Northeast Tennessee has made strides in improving infant health through the TIPQC Breastfeeding Promotion project, there is more to be gained.
“Tennessee is responding to the 2011 U.S. Surgeon’s General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding and working to improve the health of mothers and infants in our state by increasing health care provider support for breastfeeding,” Schetzina said. “The project has the potential to improve care and save lives and dollars, and I hope that all delivery hospitals and birth centers in our region will join the project.”
The Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) Family Birth Center has recently joined the TIPQC Breastfeeding Promotion project to share its experience and expertise in improving hospital breastfeeding support. Chasta Hite, manager of lactation services for Mountain States Health Alliance, said the hospital system has been working on several performance improvement projects to increase breastfeeding rates since 2010.
“Joining the TIPQC Breastfeeding Promotion project was a natural progression for Johnson City Medical Center to gain valuable insight on how we can assist moms and babies even better,” Hite said.
Dr. John Dreyzehner, Tennessee’s commissioner of health, attended and recognized TIPQC with the Commissioner’s Outstanding Service Award. Tennessee has gone from 47th in the nation in infant mortality rate to 39th since the inception of TIPQC.
“I greatly appreciate the wonderful work of TIPQC and our broader collaboration to protect, promote and improve the health of babies, moms and families,” Dreyzehner said. “It is making a real difference for health and prosperity in Tennessee.”