Improving Care for Opioid-exposed Newborns (ICON)

Baby looking at self in mirrorThe ICON project partners with the Vermont Department of Health and The University of Vermont Children's Hospital to improve health outcomes for opioid-exposed newborns. Improved health outcomes are achieved by provision of educational sessions on up-to-date recommendations and guidelines to health care professionals who provide care for opioid-dependent pregnant women and their infants.

The project also maintains a maternal and newborn population-focused database for tracking process and outcome measures. This data is used to identify gaps in care and systems related resources; the project addresses these gaps through quality improvement initiatives, focused on enhanced care processes and systems’ changes. Review the objectives here.

Lived Experiences Storytelling Workshops

In February 2022, the ICON project team hosted a pair of storytelling workshops for individuals with a history of opioid use disorder (OUD) during pregnancy and health care professionals who work with parents or families affected by OUD in Vermont. The approach used during the storytelling workshops was based on the narrative medicine model. A foundational belief of this approach is that in teaching and supporting individuals to accept and understand the power of their own stories, it can provide a pathway for them to assist others in recovery.

We can attest that each storyteller participating in our initiative had one unified reason to share their story: helping and supporting others in recovery.

Click the links below to read the stories.  

If you are interested in sharing your story, please connect with us here and we will connect you to our storyteller coach.


ICON Accomplishments

  • Provision of support and guidance for the Vermont Plan of Safe Care (POSC) with the Vermont Department of Health Division of Maternal and Child Health and the Department for Children and Families.
  • Collaboration for the statewide adoption of DCF CAPTA notifications for substance exposure in utero as outlined in Federal CARA (Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act) including engagement for planning and development of a revised Plan of Safe Care (POSC) and the development of a POSC supportive structure to assist providers in the state.
  • Collaboration with the University of Vermont Medical Center Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine for the development of educational sessions for providers on urine drug testing and interpretation.
  • Provided support and guidance for Vermont community hospitals implementing the Eating, Sleeping, Consoling (ESC) care tool for symptom assessment of opioid-exposed newborns including NNEPQIN data collection and collaboration with IDeA States Pediatric Network ESC trial.
  • Regional collaboration with neighboring states via Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network (NNEPQIN).
  • National engagement in ASTHO Opioid Use Disorder, Maternal Outcomes, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Initiative (OMNI) Learning Community.


NEW Resources

Coming Soon...Project SCOPE: Supporting Children of the OPioid Epidemic
Preparing for your hospital stay and what to expect after your baby is born.
(video below)

Upcoming Events

More events coming soon!


Questions? Contact the team today!



Michelle Shepard, MD, PhD, and Lead Faculty

Molly Rideout, MD, Faculty

Adrienne Pahl, MD, Faculty

Julie Parent, MSW, Project Director

Avery Rasmussen, MPH, Data Manager

Angela Zinno, MA, Project Coordinator


*Please email if you would like to become a member of the Listserv.