New Year Report
All of us at PICC wish our friends and supporters a healthy and happy 2018. Before we close the books on 2017, we’d like to share with you a report on our accomplishments and challenges during the past year. Following are highlights from Pediatric Interim Care Center’s 2017 report to the Department of Social and Health Services:
Services: In 2017 PICC provided 2,427 days of medically supervised 24-hour care for drug-exposed and medically fragile infants. The average stay was 34 days. In addition to infant care, PICC provides a range of free services, including infant transportation, developmental screens, supervised visitation, caregiver and foster parent training, and six months of home follow-up after each baby’s discharge. PICC is also an educational resource for the community, offering classes and instructional materials for families and caregivers, as well as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and students in residency programs.
Perhaps the greatest service PICC provides is the stability of placement for the babies after they leave. While the babies are recovering at their own pace at PICC, caseworkers have time to find the optimal placements for them, whether with parents, relatives, or foster parents open to adoption. Following-up on the babies who received care at PICC from 2013- 2015, we found that fewer than 10% of the babies had moved from their initial placement, and most of those had moved between family members.
Cost Savings: This year PICC saved Washington State $570,915.00 in documented Medicaid costs for infants who would have otherwise required hospitalization for narcotic assisted withdrawal or medical observation. As substantial as these Medicaid savings are, they are a fraction of the real healthcare dollars saved. Without PICC as a medically safe interim setting for these infants alone would have required 592 additional days of hospital care at an actual cost of $2,760 per day (the average cost of a hospital day in Washington State), generating more than $1.6 million dollars in uncompensated hospital care that is passed on to all our citizens in the form of higher healthcare costs. Please note that these savings are calculated only for the days infants received morphine for withdrawal or medical monitoring for conditions that would have required hospitalization if the babies had not been at PICC.
Drug Trends: In 2017 we continued to see a high numbers of babies exposed to heroin, along with a marked resurgence of methamphetamine. Heroin and methamphetamine were often used together and the potency of the drugs was greater, requiring more support and care for the babies. This year we also saw a steep increase in methamphetamine used alone, and the debilitating effect of this drug was reflected in the condition of our parents. We’ve had many babies whose parents are homeless—living in tents or rough on the streets. Few of them have any prenatal care. One baby was delivered on the floor of a gas station restroom. Another was born to a mother who was unconscious from a drug overdose and lay unattended on the floor for hours. We have had more babies abandoned by parents in the hospital, including two sets of twins, both born prematurely with exposure to methamphetamine and other drugs.
Our experience over 27 years has been that both parental involvement with visitation at PICC and placement in foster care after discharge are correlated with the trends in street drugs. Whenever we see increases in methamphetamine, we see a decrease in parental involvement and an increase in foster care placements. These trends have held true again with the increase in methamphetamine this year. During their stay at PICC, 69% of the babies were visited by one or both of their parents in 2017, a decline from 78% in 2016. Foster care placements rose from 41% in 2016 to 56% in 2017.
Since its founding in 1990, PICC has given 3,124 babies a safe and healthy start in life.
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