State agencies announce first recipients of Centers of Excellence for Perinatal Substance Use certification

For immediate release: July 10, 2024   (24-081)

Contact: DOH Communications

Certificate recognizes hospitals that support pregnant people and infants affected by substance use

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), and the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) are pleased to announce the first Center of Excellence for Perinatal Substance Use certification recipients. The University of Washington Medical Center – Northwest of Seattle, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center of Spokane, and Providence Holy Family Hospital of Spokane are the first birthing hospitals to receive this award.

This certificate recognizes hospitals that have made significant progress in supporting birthing parents and infants affected by substance use disorder by adopting perinatal care best practices. It was created in collaboration between DOH, WSHA, and HCA, and supports the state’s Opioid and Overdose Response Plan.

Behavioral health conditions, including substance use, are the leading cause of preventable deaths related to pregnancy in Washington. Between 2014 and 2020, 83% of all deaths from unintentional overdose during pregnancy, delivery, or up to one year after giving birth involved opioids.

“Ensuring parents and people who are pregnant receive substance use recovery and supportive services is a top priority for our agency and need in our communities,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Chief of Prevention, Safety and Health, DOH. “Our hope in creating the Centers of Excellence for Perinatal Substance Use certification is to set a system of care for parents and infants impacted by the behavioral health crisis. This joint effort is guided by proven science and compassion.”  

Hospitals seeking this certification must meet eight criteria addressing the maternal behavioral health care and treatment needs of Washington. These include screening all people giving birth for substance use disorders and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, as well as providing resources for treatment and follow-up care when needed. Hospitals must also train staff and update their policies and treatment practices to align with national best practice standards for perinatal substance use.

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