BlueCross Foundation Commits $1 Million To Neonatal Abstinence Fight

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In response to a surge of babies being born dependent on drugs and suffering the painful symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant for construction of a new NAS treatment unit at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.

“Our experience with our members has taught us how widespread a problem NAS is in East Tennessee,” said Scott Pierce, president and CEO of BlueCare Tennessee, BlueCross’ Medicaid subsidiary.

“Most of those babies wind up at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and it’s the right thing to do to help them upgrade their facilities to deal with this problem.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 921 NAS births in the state during 2013. The vast majority of those cases were in upper East Tennessee, where the rate per 1,000 live births in five reporting areas averaged 36.3. The rate for the rest of the state is 3.8.

“Babies experiencing withdrawal symptoms need specialized doses of medication and constant supervision,” explained Carlton Long, Children’s Hospital vice president for development and community services. “Our new NAS unit will provide private rooms and a neighborhood care design. This will allow for better patient monitoring, better staff visualization of the unit and enhanced security. Our current NAS unit will be converted back into inpatient rooms.”

Babies with NAS often suffer painful tremors, sensitivity to light and diarrhea, among other symptoms.

The new NAS unit will, among other features, offer quiet, low-light spaces where trained volunteer cuddlers can hold and comfort the babies, a technique that helps them rest.  Construction of the NAS unit comes as part of a $75 million expansion project being undertaken at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Ground was broken for the expansion Aug. 19.




Haslam, Boyd Announce State Infrastructure Investment Surrounding St. Jude Children's Research Hospital In Shelby County

Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd on Thursday announced that the state of Tennessee, along with the city of Memphis, will invest in public infrastructure surrounding St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.   The state will invest $12 million in FastTrack funding to improve the public infrastructure surrounding ... (click for more)

Senate Passes 21st Century Cures Bill To Help Find Cures For Cancer And Alzheimer’s, And To Fight Opioid Crisis

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Wednesday said “the most important bill of the year is headed towards the President’s desk,” after the United States Senate passed the 21 st  Century Cures Act by a vote of 94 to 5. “For the second consecutive year, the senate is sending the President another Christmas miracle for his signature. Last year, it was the ... (click for more)

County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding

County school board members are gearing up to set priorities for the next round of new school construction in Hamilton County. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said officials may know by the spring how much money will be available to build new schools or add on to existing ones - or do a combination of both. Board member Rhonda Thurman said a proposal to build a new Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Walker County Will No Longer Have Full-Time County Attorney Under Whitfield Tenure; Will Add Full-Time Communications Director

Incoming Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said under his administration there will no longer be a full-time county attorney. "We will outsource this service on a fee basis," he said. Mr. Whitfield said he has begun interviewing attorneys who might be able to help out the county from time to time. Don Oliver has long been the county attorney for Walker County ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Cost Of No Discipline

At the start of the current school year, state education officials gathered at some “state testing task force” when disciplinary records from across Tennessee happened to be revealed. You probably are unaware of this, as it seems to have been kept on the “down low,” but statewide a full 20 percent of the black males in our public schools were suspended at least once during the 2014-2015 ... (click for more)