Woman's Hospital GRACE Program Reaches Milestone Helping 150 Pregnant Women

July 13, 2021

Program supports pregnant women suffering from opioid addiction

BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Dessie Kline enrolled in the GRACE Program at Woman’s Hospital, she had no idea how much it would change her life. She gave birth to her son Justyce on April 12, and because of GRACE, she is sober and experiencing being a new mom in a way she never thought possible.

“I’ve never cried so many tears of joy,” she explained. “Just seeing him smile, giggle and laugh is amazing. Because of GRACE, I can live my life not addicted to drugs and I can truly enjoy my family and be the best mother I can be.”

GRACE Program graduate Dessie Kline is experiencing being a mom to son Justyce free from addiction.

Woman’s Hospital’s GRACE Program, which stands for Guiding Recovery and Creating Empowerment, is the only one of its kind in Louisiana and one of few in the nation. It is a care coordination program for pregnant women with opioid use disorder that connects them to resources in the community to provide treatment and support. Women enrolled in this program receive support throughout pregnancy and for six weeks after giving birth.

Originally funded by a grant from the United Health Foundation, GRACE continues to evolve and grow, recently enrolling its 150th participant.

“What started out as a desire to help women suffering from opioid misuse has expanded to a program that has impacted more than 300 lives when you consider the moms and their babies,” said Cheri Johnson, Woman’s Hospital chief nursing officer. “There is a real need in our community for programs to combat opioid addiction, and we’re proud to be a resource for pregnant women needing support.”

Women are often afraid to seek help for addiction during pregnancy, but GRACE provides nonjudgmental, compassionate care coordination to those struggling with opioid addiction.

“A lot of people don’t understand that these women don’t want to choose this, that addiction is a day-to-day battle, and they want better for themselves and their babies; they want to stop,” said Kristen Phillips, RN, GRACE Program nurse case manager.

Kline worked closely with the GRACE Program nurse and social worker to receive treatment and support to remain healthy throughout her pregnancy.

“I was comfortable sharing my story with them,” she explained. “If I had anything going on in my life I could tell them. They truly were on that pregnancy journey with me, and I didn’t have to face anything alone.”

She says that anyone considering enrolling in the GRACE Program should contact the team as soon as possible.

“Don’t let fear stop you,” she encourages. “There’s no need to stay stuck in the guilt and the shame, the embarrassment and the loneliness, when you have an entire team that’s here to help.”

GRACE is open to any pregnant woman in the Baton Rouge area seeking treatment, regardless of where she is receiving prenatal care. All phone calls are private and confidential.

For more information on the GRACE Program or how to refer a woman in need, call 225-924-8574 or visit womans.org/grace.