Transition Home program helps medically fragile babies
RMHS creates a new program to support infants transition home form the NICU.
The transition home for babies who have spent time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be stressful as families leave a setting where their newborns received round-the-clock care from medical experts.
Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) has created a new program to ease that transition for medically fragile infants and their parents and to fill the gap between the support provided by hospital staff and an initial evaluation with RMHS for early intervention services.
The Transition Home program supports infants who have a categorically eligible diagnosis or condition, such as Down syndrome, low birth weight, neonatal strokes and more. Infants in the program are provided an additional support before a family's first evaluation, a precursor to early intervention services at RMHS. The difference is families will get support from an Infant Specialist before an evaluation for early intervention services occurs.
“We are really there to support them in whatever they need now that they are home,” said Amanda Mills, Infant Specialist for the Transition Home program.
Leaving the NICU can be stressful as families often struggle to find the support they need for the wellbeing of their baby and themselves. The Transition Home Program aims to help families transition home from the NICU and into to early intervention services. An Infant Specialist, a newly created role at RMHS, may help with daily routines, such as sleeping, eating and playtime. They’ll answer questions the family may have, provide resources, and help parents understand the evaluation process for further services.
On average, categorically eligible infants who are discharged home from the NICU and hospital wait 2 to 3 weeks for their initial evaluation for Early Intervention therapy services.
Families who receive support from the program can connect with the Early Intervention system more quickly. Once in the program, Early Intervention staff can help families prepare for their baby’s initial evaluation. The program is essentially a bridge to Early Intervention Service.
About 30 percent of families who schedule appointments end up cancelling or not making their evaluation appointment to set up Early Intervention services. With the support provided earlier in the process, the likelihood that families will attend their Ear;y Intervention evaluation and participate in services increases.
Families who do not make it to their initial evaluation risk delaying the access to support that can help their baby’s development. The Transition Home program is intended to help more of those families make it to the initial evaluation and receive continued supports and services.
RMHS has created the program through Mill Levy funding, a property tax for services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Denver taxpayers approved the tax in 2003.