Hush a Bye, Don’t You Cry

Helping people with substance-use disorders become better parents  

Organization

Hushabye Nursery

Leadership

Co-Founder & Executive Director Tara Sundem

Board President Brandon Clark

Annual budget

$3.6 million

Origin: As a neonatal nurse practitioner with more than 27 years of experience, Tara Sundem has worked with mothers and collaborated with community partners to improve outcomes for babies exposed prenatally to opioids. Sundem began operating Hushabye Nursery in 2017, providing pre- and post-natal education at community-based opioid treatment centers. 

Believing that every baby deserves the right to a healthy, supportive family and community, Sundem began collecting data and funding to create a new model and care setting with improved social and health outcomes for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome and their families.

Today, Hushabye Nursery is a nurse-managed organization with nurse-leaders making up half of the senior leadership team. Together with a staff of 31 certified nurses, they bring their own experiences, ideas and insights to create nurse-led solutions, protocols and treatment approaches.

Known for: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every 15 minutes, a baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome resulting from the mother’s prenatal opioid exposure. Newborns exposed to opioids in the womb are at risk for NAS, an opiate-dependent state, which requires a complex and painful detoxification process in the days after birth. NAS babies are the tiniest victims of today’s opioid crisis, one exacerbated by barriers to healthcare access and equity for infants
and families.  

In response, Hushabye Nursery has pioneered the first nurse-managed, community-based care model in the country to provide medical treatment for babies experiencing NAS along with intensive behavioral health services for families impacted by opioid use disorder. Hushabye Nursery increases accessibility, reduces inequities and provides value by lowering cost and improving patient outcomes. Caregivers encourage families to get involved in the treatment of their infant by sending an empowering, nonjudgmental message
to parents.

Challenges during COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated opioid use disorder. Incidences of overdose increased by approximately 30 percent nationwide, making Hushabye Nursery’s services even more essential. The pandemic also required rapidly adding telehealth services to provide continuity of care and safe access for providers and patients in high-risk COVID-19 categories.

Program highlight: Hushabye encourages but does not require mothers to stay with their infant 24/7, be highly involved in their care, and work to become the best parents they can be. Demonstrating the power in prevention interventions, 85 percent of the first 139 babies admitted to Hushabye’s Infant Detox Nursery were safely discharged to a biological parent active in the Hushabye Nursery Opioid Pregnancy Preparation and Empowerment (HOPPE) prenatal program.

What they’re looking forward to: Hushabye Nursery programs focus on perseverance, teaching individuals to get back up and begin again. Sundem and her team are most looking forward to watching more moms create lives full of love and meaning for themselves and their children.

To learn more, go to hushabyenursery.org. 

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