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Village Improvement Association Supports Families Affected by Opioid Crisis

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The initiative includes providing supplies to parents of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

The Village Improvement Association of Doylestown (VIA) is helping families affected by the opioid epidemic by providing essential baby items to parents of newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

Members of the VIA gathered at Doylestown Hospital in January to assemble the donation bags for the families.

"Building on our strong history of supporting the health and welfare of the Central Bucks County community, this effort extends our reach to some of the youngest in our area who are impacted by the opioid crisis," said Joy Levy, VIA corresponding secretary who helped coordinate the effort. "We hope the contents of these bags will help these infants flourish and make a difference in the lives of their families. We are grateful for all the support and donations we received to make this effort possible."

The initiative is one way in which the VIA is addressing the opioid crisis and meeting its mission to support the health and welfare of the community. The VIA held an Opioid Listening Forum in April 2018 to understand how this issue is being addressed by other organizations and community resources, and to identify gaps in treatment and support where the VIA could be most effective.

Through its Community Response Fund, the VIA provided a $10,000 grant to the Lenape Valley Foundation to sponsor a resident bedroom in the new Lenape Valley Foundation Lodge, a short-stay residential facility located in Bristol Borough.

As founders of Doylestown Hospital, the VIA also wanted to have an impact on families that get their start in the hospital's VIA Maternity Center.

About 35 babies are born at Doylestown Hospital each year with NAS, a set of conditions found in newborns exposed to opioids in utero. After birth, these babies may experience withdrawal-like symptoms including tremors and irritability along with difficulty feeding and gaining weight.

Instead of staying in the Intensive Care Nursery, babies with NAS and their mothers stay in the Della Penna Pediatric Center, which has private rooms and specialized nursing care around the clock. There nurses provide support to help the new moms learn to calm their newborn and give their babies the comfort and love needed to recover and grow. In late 2018, the VIA purchased two seats designed to help soothe irritable babies and a breastfeeding pump for use by families in the Della Penna Center.

The VIA also wanted to provide items that would help these infants when they leave the hospital for home. Babies born with NAS will head home with a bag of items including sleep sacks to promote safe sleep, pacifiers to help improve their sucking reflex and other items including hats, blankets, baby wash, baby lotion, nursing pads, toys and books.

The baby care bags were made possible with support from the VIA, Doylestown Hospital, the Eden Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Doylestown Hospital Knitting Group, Pine Run Community and Minuteman Press of Doylestown.

Kathy Donahue, director of Maternal-Child Services for Doylestown Health, provided guidance to the VIA regarding which items and equipment would be most beneficial for the families.

"The dedication of these women toward new families is wonderful, they help us in so many ways and this project is from the heart," said Kathy. "The families will be so grateful to get a head start with the gift bags and the generous donation of equipment will help for years to come."

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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