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MDHHS uses $1.3 million opioid settlement dollars to expand hospital supports for substance-exposed babies and their families

LANSING, Mich. – As part of Michigan’s efforts to reduce drug-related overdose deaths and provide support for families impacted by substance use disorder (SUD), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is investing in supports for pregnant and parenting individuals and their families. This includes $1.3 million in opioid settlement dollars to expand rooming-in to five birthing hospitals across the state.

Rooming-in supports infants who are born substance-exposed, allowing birthing individuals, caregivers and babies to lodge in the same room after birth. In 2022, Michigan developed a broad opioid strategy focused on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery. The strategy includes a special focus on pregnancy and parenting, designed to increase SUD screenings in prenatal care and improve care for pregnant people with SUD and infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Prior to the rooming-in approach to care, infants who were born substance exposed were sent directly to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for care and assessment. NICU stays can create additional challenges for infants with NAS that are adjusting to their new environment, as well as for families who need to bond with, comfort and console their newborn. 

“We are addressing disparities by prioritizing the needs of vulnerable populations as we distribute settlement dollars across the state,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive and Michigan Opioids Task Force co-chair. “Evidence shows mothers and newborns benefit from staying together. For babies with NAS, it helps decrease the length of stay in the hospital and reduces the need for medication interventions.”

Settlement funding provided to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Covenant Medical Center in Saginaw, OSF St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba, University of Michigan Health-Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and Bronson Battle Creek Hospital has supported hospital room renovations, including room darkening shades, bassinets and dimmable lights, and provided training to staff to support the rooming-in strategy.

Michigan is slated to receive nearly $1.6 billion from national opioid settlements by 2040, with half being distributed to the State of Michigan Opioid Healing and Recovery Fund and the other half being distributed directly to county, city and township governments.

“Opening up access to the rooming-in concept and supporting this critical program helps to strengthen the treatment provided to both mom and infant and is a best practice that will make a much-needed impact for many years to come in communities throughout the state,” said Greg Toutant, CEO of Great Lakes Recovery Centers and member of Governor Whitmer’s Opioids Task Force. 

“This program offered me the opportunity to be with my son and not have to leave him at the hospital when he was first born,” said Jessica Clark of her experience at Hurley Medical Center. “I was able to be with my son the whole time and bond with him. Coming from such a judgmental world, it felt like a safe place.”

“This work has been incredibly meaningful for me,” said Megan Butterfield, NAS nurse navigator at Hurley Medical Center. “I worked in the NICU as a bedside nurse and I cared for newborns with NAS. I witnessed parents who were nervous, intimidated and scared to be at the bedside with their newborns; oftentimes even absent. Since starting our rooming-in program, I have witnessed parents who are confident, loving, nurturing caretakers to their newborns. Parents that are willing to stand proudly at their baby’s bedside and provide the non-pharmacological care they need. It is amazing how things change when more support systems and education are in place. The bonding that has transpired is absolutely beautiful and something every mother should be able to experience. I am very grateful we have had the opportunity to support families in this way.”

“We know there is a high incidence of opioid use in our area, and we wanted to offer this program to serve the community and keep moms with their babies after they were born,” said Merrisa MacGregor, OB Department Manager at OSF St. Francis Hospital. “We have used our funding to provide stigma training to nurses and other staff and upgraded rooms to be low stimulus environments and comfortable for mothers and family staying with their baby.”

The impacts of rooming-in to date include: 

  • As of March 31, 2024, 282 total families have been served by rooming-in through SAMSHA State Opioid Response or opioid settlement dollars.
  • Prior to starting rooming-in, one participating hospital estimated that 34% of substance-exposed infants required pharmacological intervention; by March 2024, only 12% of infants required pharmacological intervention.
  • The average length of stay for substance-exposed infants has decreased since starting rooming-in.
  • For example, prior to rooming-in, the average length of stay for infants born substance-exposed at Munson Health System was 7.84 days; the average length of stay from July 2023 to March 2024 was 3.48 days.

Additional priorities in the MDHHS opioid strategy identified by Michigan’s Regional Perinatal Quality Collaboratives include increasing access to recovery housing that support entire families, training on stigma and bias and connections to recovery resources and providers in the prenatal period. 

More information regarding proposed programming under Michigan’s Opioid Healing and Recovery Fund is provided on the opioids settlement website. Other recent key opioid settlement accomplishments of funded initiatives include:

  • Programs reported more than 30,000 client encounters, providing:
    • 81,0000 naloxone kits, with 4,763 overdose reversals reported.
    • 73,000 fentanyl test strips and 5,000 xylazine test strips. Data indicates people using drugs practice safer use when knowing these substances are present.
  • The NARCAN Direct Naloxone Portal distributed 147,000 Narcan kits to 404 organizations ordering through the portal and 2,605 overdose reversals were reported.
  • Four Recovery Community Organizations provided recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder, including peer recovery coaching, connections to services and substance-free activities and events.
  • The Michigan Department of Corrections provided medications for opioid use disorder to 884 inmates across 10 prison sites.
  • Technical assistance was provided to 23 counties by the Technical Assistance Collaborative to inform local governments’ evidence-based investment decisions for local settlement funds.
  • Grants were awarded to eight opioid use disorder treatment providers to expand or enhance their physical infrastructure to increase service capacity.
  • More than 4,100 rides were provided by transportation grants.


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