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Published on June 28, 2021

Abington – Jefferson Health Receives First Place Award for Establishing Program to Identify and Treat Maternal Depression and Anxiety

ABINGTON, PA (June 28, 2021) – Abington – Jefferson Health has received first place recognition from the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care for implementing initiatives to increase recognition and treatment of maternal depression and anxiety. Abington – Jefferson Health competed with hospitals and health systems across the nation to earn this award.

These initiatives include:

  • The creation of an educational video series for patients available to them at three points of care
  • Opportunity for in-person discussions with perinatal behavioral health consultant
  • Perinatal and postpartum behavioral health resources

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) is the most common complication in the perinatal period. In the United States, there are more maternal deaths from suicide than from perinatal medical complications. To combat this serious women’s health concern, Abington – Jefferson Health clinicians implemented patient and family education in a variety of ways.

“When it comes to pregnancy and the post-partum period, there is no right way to feel,” explains Stefanie Lopacinski, Ed.D, LCSW, perinatal behavioral health consultant, Abington – Jefferson Health. “There is a myriad of emotions associated with pregnancy and the post-partum period, and it is completely normal to feel anxiety or even sadness during this time. You don’t have to enjoy pregnancy. Not every mom feels an instant bond to their baby, and this is okay. But sometimes, women experience guilt about their feelings of doubt, sadness, anxiety or fear. They may not be comfortable starting the conversation about these feelings with a provider,” Lopacinski says.

“That’s where we come in – we want to validate their feelings and ensure that they know how to seek help. These videos are available to all maternity patients,” she emphasizes. “Through these videos, we can remind each patient that their feelings are indeed valid, and offer them ways to seek support if they need it at any point in their pregnancy and post-partum journey.”

A series of three educational videos is available for patients during different points in their maternity journey. Videos are available to patients at their first prenatal visit, while in the hospital after delivery and at their postpartum visit. Through these videos, Abington – Jefferson Health’s perinatal behavioral health consultant educates on PMAD and resources available to patients who need support. The goal of these videos is to normalize the emotions and hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and the post-partum period, and to educate patients about red flags, signs of PMAD and when and how to ask for help.

All birthing patients are screened for perinatal mood disorders during their delivery stay. If a birthing patient is identified by their physician or nursing staff as needing additional support, the perinatal behavioral health consultant can be consulted to meet with the patient and/or their partners or family members. Additionally, patients are sent home with a list of post-partum behavioral health resources. Abington – Jefferson Health staff are trained to identify and understand PMAD so they can best support patients.

“We are committed to providing high-level care to our maternity patients,” says Carol Chwal, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, administrative director, Women and Children’s Services, Abington – Jefferson Health. “This includes caring for both their physical and mental health. We want to make sure our patients feel supported in every way. We are proud to offer PMAD education and resources to our patients and families, and honored to have received this award.”

This recognition is part of the Council’s National Improvement Challenge on Maternal Mental Health. The National Improvement Challenge seeks to improve women’s health care through the development of safety and quality improvement projects and foster a culture of collaboration, teamwork and communication between clinicians and patients, while concurrently increasing widespread safety tools and resources put forth by the Council.

Challenge entries were evaluated based on use of the Council’s patient safety tools, improvements in processes and outcomes and demonstrated multidisciplinary collaboration. The Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care awarded four winners nationwide, with Abington – Jefferson Health selected for first place.

About Abington – Jefferson Health

Abington – Jefferson Health encompasses Abington Hospital in Abington, Abington – Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township and seven convenient outpatient facilities located in Blue Bell, Elkins Park, Horsham, Lower Gwynedd, Montgomeryville, Warminster and Willow Grove. More than 1,400 physicians are on staff at both Abington Hospital and Abington – Lansdale Hospital. Abington – Jefferson Health is part of Jefferson Health and Jefferson, an organization dedicated to providing the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educating the healthcare professionals of tomorrow, and discovering new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

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