Thrive by IU Health

March 29, 2022

When it comes to healthy moms and healthy babies, philanthropy delivers

When it comes to healthy moms and healthy babies, philanthropy delivers

We all want the best for our children, but for mothers struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), especially those in rural communities, a lack of support can hinder them from accessing and receiving the best care. And with infant mortality rates on the rise in Indiana, that support and access is more critical than ever.

IU Health Foundation is working to give these mothers the help they need through its support of the IU Health Community Health Family Vitality initiative. Family Vitality works with mothers across the South Central Region to ensure they have access to obstetrical care, education and community resources. Headed by Clinical Manager Lori Terrell, the program is now setting its sights on reaching rural moms through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program - Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (RCORP-NAS), part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

RCORP-NAS funds programs that deliver services to mothers in designated high-risk areas -- in this case, Owen, Greene, Lawrence and Orange Counties. Terrell says these areas have a high prevalence of substance use among expectant mothers. If not addressed, this substance use can lead to a number of complications -- and even death -- among impacted infants.

Pregnant woman touches her stomach

In Terrell’s experience with the 119 mothers who have been referred to her through her Family Vitality program, nine have lost infants to fetal demise. In all cases, the mothers were actively experiencing SUD.

But there is hope for expectant moms who want to give their babies a clean start. The RCORP-NAS grant will help set up clinics that provide group OB/GYN care, medication assisted treatment and substance use therapy to mothers who may not otherwise have access to needed substance care.

Terrell says the impact of philanthropy in reaching these mothers and reducing numbers of infant mortality is enormous. “It’s helping individuals who really feel like they have no one giving them support,” she says. “I just talked to a mom, and she kept reiterating to me, ‘I am a good person. I'm more than my substance use.’ So, to have someone who can help walk through those difficult times with them, who can support them and connect them to services and encourage them without judgment, helps those individuals stay connected and want to make that change.”

A. Lillette Wood, MD (left) | Lori Terrell (right)
A. Lillette Wood, MD (left) | Lori Terrell (right)

And none of it would be possible, Terrell says, without the support of IU Health Foundation and donors like you. “There was no program (Family Vitality) before the funding came from the Foundation,” she says. “There are areas where a lot of social supports are needed, and without philanthropy, we wouldn't likely exist.”

Want to learn more about IU Health Community Health Family Vitality and the HRSA RCORP-NAS program? Find out how to donate to programs like this and make a difference in the lives of mothers and infants in our rural communities and beyond by contacting IU Health Foundation Philanthropy Director Diane Buzzell at 812.353.9567.