For Immediate Release December 20, 2022

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center Family Birthplace and The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center have received a $22,500 grant from The Albert P. Close Foundation. Over the years, The Close Foundation has made grants totaling over $100,000 in support of programs for youth, adolescents and young adults at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH).

The Close Foundation grant enables the Family Birthplace's Hold Them Close program to allow substance-exposed newborns to room with their families, rather than go to the Special Care Nursery at 24 hours of life. The program assists with early intervention, access to services and long-term follow up to help newborns and their families be successful at home.

The grant also provides young adult and adolescent support to The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center by partially funding a therapist. This financial support will also help to provide care in the coming year for more than 900 pediatric guests through the Center's walk-in urgent care and more than 850 young individuals through its outpatient clinic. "We are so grateful to The Close Foundation for their long-term partnership and support of our work," said Elizabeth Wise, FACHE, MSN, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. "Their generosity to the Family Birthplace and the Crisis Center is a wonderful example of the support our medical system receives from the community for vital programs that allow us to enhance care for a very vulnerable population of patients."

Over the past two years, The Close Foundation funding has supported 40 patients and families by providing needed equipment and supplies as part of UM UCH's Hold Them Close program.

In addition to the option to stay with their newborn during the withdrawal process, parents also receive one-on-one safety teaching by a nurse and are presented with a swaddle sleep slack to promote safe sleeping at home. Mimicking a swaddle—the practice of wrapping up a baby in a light, breathable blanket—these two-in-one swaddles often come with Velcro, snaps or zippers to give the baby a snug fit. Infants going through withdrawal typically love to be swaddled as it helps them feel safe and can minimize tremors or jerks. Families also receive information about various topics including safe sleep, shaken baby prevention, home safety, car seat safety, the importance of reading to the baby and CPR/choking.

Upon hospital discharge, each family in the program receives a Hold Them Close safety bag with various items (including massage oils, books and personal hygiene supplies) to help them cope with stressors at home.

Benefits of the program over the past two years include increased family bonding, increased parent presence, decreased measurable withdrawal symptoms, decreased use of morphine and secondary medications, decrease in the length of stay in the hospital and no increase in readmission of newborns after discharge.

Future plans for the Hold Them Close program include adding darkening blinds and rocker/lounger chairs in the rooms; connecting families to car seats, baby supplies and cribs before leaving the hospital; and partnering with community resources for follow-up and long-term care and with new treatment providers to ensure early interventions and good prenatal care.