Musical Pacifiers changes lives of preemies impacted by drug withdrawal

Oct. 16, 2019

The Saint Agnes Foundation, which supports Ascension Saint Agnes in Baltimore, was the winner of this year’s Sister Mary Walter Boyle Philanthropy Award from the Ascension Council on Philanthropy. According to an Ascension release, the award, which recognizes a significant philanthropic accomplishment by a hospital, foundation or healthcare institution affiliated with Ascension, was presented at the conclusion of the council’s 2019 annual conference.

The foundation was honored for Musical Pacifiers, a fund-raising program to help Ascension Saint Agnes’ tiniest patients cope while in drug withdrawal. The program’s goal was to raise money to buy musical pacifiers known as pacifier-activated lullabies (PAL), which provide music therapy as a method of soothing and teaching infants proper developmental habits.

The Saint Agnes Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit sees about 300 babies annually, and in 2018, 70 infants were treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome, a group of conditions that occur when babies withdraw from certain drugs they are exposed to in the womb. When a baby is sucking on it, a PAL plays a prerecorded lullaby, which can be a song recorded earlier by the baby’s parents.

This effectively addresses withdrawal symptoms, decreasing length of stay and chances for readmission while promoting positive parental interactions. Prior to discharge, the infants are transitioned to a conventional musical pacifier (which plays music, not a recording by the parents) that is sent home with them. The benefits of the PAL device include improved sleep cycles, ability to eat, weight gain, decreased need for narcotics as a treatment, and decreased length of the hospital stay.

The idea was submitted by Kathy Goad, MSN, RNC, CCRN, NICU Nurse Manager, to the Saint Agnes Foundation’s Innovation Tank Contest, which challenges Ascension Saint Agnes associates to present creative ideas on how patient care can be enhanced and community-based programs can get started and flourish. “The Musical Pacifiers program, designed to help pint-sized patients get through drug withdrawal, resonated with people like no other program,” said Season Voelker, Manager, Annual Giving, Saint Agnes Foundation.

The foundation used a creative marketing plan and social media strategy to highlight Musical Pacifiers as its 2018 campaign for Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration that’s celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Ascension has the release.