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Chagrin Falls obstetrician Brad Lucas makes big deal about dads

By Angela Townsend, The Plain Dealer

atownsend@plaind.com


CLEVELAND, Ohio — The official title is "DAD: Little word . . . Big Deal. Your Guide to the Father Situation." 


But since its debut in late 2012, it's been affectionately called the "Dad book." 

Dr. Brad Lucas, an obstetrician who lives in Chagrin Falls and has a part-time private practice in Westlake, thought men were getting the short end of the stick when it came to all the pregnancy fuss. So he decided to write a book just for them. 


The book's target audience is families who get their health care through the Buckeye Community Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene Corp., whose 18 Medicaid managed-care plans are in 19 states. 


Buckeye, based in Columbus, is one of seven Medicaid managed-care plans in Ohio. 


Lucas, Buckeye's chief medical officer, has worked with Medicaid patients since his student days at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. 


"I've always had such an affinity for them," he said. "As an OB, I loved that when the boyfriend came in for the [prenatal] visits, those pregnancies did better and the kids did better." 


HOW DADS MAKE A DIFFERENCE


Children with involved fathers have: 

• Better cognitive outcomes, even as infants. 

• Higher self-esteem and less depression as teenagers. 

• Higher grades, test scores and overall academic achievement. 

• Lower levels of drug and alcohol use. 

• Higher levels of empathy and other pro-social behavior. 

• More economic stability. 

• Fewer problems with the judicial system. 

• Healthier child development. 

• More support from their paternal relatives. 

Source: Ohio Commission on Fatherhood.


While health professionals discuss the importance of consistent prenatal care and medical therapies to tackle preterm births, they often miss the boat on how critical it is for a dad-to-be to show up, Lucas said. 


"In Ohio, two out of five homes don't have a dad [present]," he said. "It's so accepted that the father of the baby is not going to be involved. [But] if the father is involved, that would make so much more of an impact on pregnancy." 


In 2005, not long after receiving a master's degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Lucas left a full-time OB practice with University Hospitals to work for Buckeye. 


He began reaching out to perinatologists, telling the maternal-fetal medicine specialists that patients needed to be educated better, especially about avoiding preterm deliveries. 


In 2008 Lucas helped launch Buckeye's Start Smart for Your Baby program, which provides moms-to-be with information on pregnancy and early childhood. 


A few years later, he started thinking about how to tailor that same information to men, so they wouldn't feel completely left out of the process.

 

"I was relearning some of the things, the tools to best communicate with each other, tools to be more confident in the role of the father of the baby," said Lucas, who has 4-year-old twin girls and two sons, ages 13 and 15. 


The 36-page "Dad book" teaches men the basics of pregnancy, shows them how they can be an active participant and addresses their fears. 


It breaks down the mistakes to avoid, provides insight into doctor's visits and changes in a woman's body, and offers some handy lists (necessities to buy before the baby arrives, a checklist to follow in the days before delivery) and tips for navigating life after the baby is born. 


"The response has been good," Lucas said. "I think we really need to get it into more hands. We need to help our membership understand it." 


Over the past six months, Centene has distributed approximately 4,000 books to its members in Ohio and to community partners for distribution at programs. 


While there are currently no plans to print books for nonmembers, people can read it on Buckeye's website at bchpohio.com. (You can read the book at the end of this story. Mobile users can see it here.)


If Lucas is asked to pen a second edition, he says he will include stories and tips from new dads who were helped by the book. 


"It's a book that says, 'Yeah, it's OK to ask these questions. It's good to participate. And you'll be glad that you did," he said.


Link to article

Award for Most Innovative Maternal Health Practice

 

Buckeye Health Plan garners MHPA Award for most innovative maternal health practice. 

Addiction in Pregnancy Program Decreases Length of Neonatal Hospital Stays by 50 Percent


COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Buckeye Health Plan (Buckeye) announced today it has been honored with a Medicaid Health Plan of America (MHPA) award for the Most Innovative Maternal Health Practice for its Addiction in Pregnancy Program. 


MHPA and its sister organization, the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI), recognized select member companies for innovative best practices that have improved the health of Medicaid enrollees. "The programs from these health plans serve as a model for others to follow in terms of ensuring access to and the delivery of high-quality care," said the organization's press release. 


Buckeye's Addiction in Pregnancy Program identifies pregnant members with addiction problems and provides integrated case management through obstetric care and behavioral health care managers. 


The program began in October 2013 and has resulted in shorter neonatal hospital lengths of stay and improved Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) rates for participants. The HEDIS Initiative/Initiation and Engagement of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence Treatment (IET)/Engagement IET rates for members enrolled in the program are respectively 64.71 and 35.29 percent, as compared to 32.26 and 2.27 percent for the entire Buckeye population.


Through the Addiction in Pregnancy Program, 40 percent of members have remained drug free through 18 months post-delivery. The average length of stay has moved downward continuously. Babies born with addiction needed over 15 days of intensive neonatal care. They're now staying for an average of 7.5 days.


"Pregnancy is the time in these individuals' lives when they have the best chance of conquering their addiction permanently," said Dr. Brad Lucas, chief medical officer, Buckeye Health Plan. "This program provides a judgment-free zone for these expectant moms to find the tools and resources to improve their lives and the lives of their babies. We accept these women with open arms and provide support at a time when they need it most."


Dr. Lucas has helped build and guide this award-winning program and is responsible for the development of other programs that have improved clinical outcomes and ensure high quality care across all medical conditions for Buckeye members. Other key contributors to the program include head of care management Tricia Blackburn and the Cenpatico team. 

To learn more about how the Addiction in Pregnancy Program works with women to stay clean and sober and deliver a healthy baby, visit our website.  


About Buckeye Health Plan


Buckeye Health Plan is a managed care plan that has been providing services in Ohio since 2004. Buckeye is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-line healthcare enterprise offering both core Medicaid and specialty services. Buckeye can be followed on Twitter as Buckeye_Health and Facebook.

SOURCE Buckeye Health Plan


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Dr. Brad Lucas joined Buckeye Health Plan in 2005 and has served as the Chief Medical Officer for th

Obstetrician gives advice to new dads under Medicaid

This article written by Corinne Murphy was published in Health Scene Ohio, July 15, 2016. 


Dr. Brad Lucas has seen the effects of poverty and how it can make a certain population seem helpless and unreachable. Instead of watching, he has done something about it.


From studying addiction in pregnancy to writing a book for how fathers receiving Medicaid can get involved and increase their children’s chances of success, Lucas has conducted outreach for the hard-to-reach populations, removing barriers to medical care.


Lucas, a Columbus native, attended Miami University of Ohio and graduated with bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He then attended the Medical College of Ohio and completed his residency at Johns Hopkins University.


During his residency, Lucas says, he was exposed to patients whose needs drove his transition into the administrative side of medicine.


“When I trained at Hopkins, in a big academic center with a big population of underinsured individuals, (I learned) to love that population,” Lucas says. “I had to learn how to relate to them, enjoy who they were and walk them through scary paths. I learned to bond with them. When I came back to Ohio, I made sure I was taking care of the underinsured.”


He first practiced as an OB/GYN in Columbus, but moved to Cleveland and worked in the University Hospitals system. He continues to practice part-time at AxessPointe Community Health Center in Akron.

He now works as the chief medical officer of Buckeye Health Plan, a Columbus-based Medicaid managed care plan. He mentions that there was a transition to being on the administrative side.


“While working on the health plan side, I discovered that there are ways to impact whole populations of individuals, and here (at Buckeye), we are improving the health of the community one person at a time,” he says.


Lucas recognized a need for fatherhood initiatives. That’s when he decided to write what he calls “the dad book.”

The book aims to educate expectant fathers of Medicaid recipients through Buckeye Health, covering pregnancy and how to get involved in their children’s lives early on.

“It helps dispel myths about the role of the father of the baby. It helps them understand their role as a new dad,” Lucas says. “It’s really unique, because you can’t go to the bookstore or Amazon to find similar topics.”

Lucas says we don’t do enough for the fathers in this clinic setting.

“It wasn’t an inviting environment for the father,” he says. “Some people make the assumption that fathers don’t want to be involved, and that’s a dangerous assumption.”


And that’s no exaggeration: Research shows it really is dangerous and puts the child at risk of failure. If the father is absent in the home, the child is three times more likely to fail in school and two times more likely to be involved in drugs. Children without fathers won’t develop as well emotionally. On the flip side, those who have fathers present will likely have fewer behavioral problems and do better in school.


“We have medical therapies that we promote, but fatherhood is so much more impactful than some of the most proven medical therapies,” Lucas says.


ADDICTION IN PREGNANCY PROGRAM


With the Addiction in Pregnancy Program, Lucas deals with a transient, hard-to-reach population.


“When you go back to the evolution of health care – when you get to the challenging, difficult members in the health plan – we felt like we couldn’t touch them and couldn’t communicate with them,” he says. “We tended to turn our attention to people we have a better chance of helping. But the problem was growing. So we said, ‘Let’s take this head on and get a sense for how big a problem it is.’”


And the problem was growing worse at a rapid rate.


Conducting studies that compared newborns with mothers addicted to narcotics, the data from 2009 to 2013 across Ohio showed that babies born addicted to narcotics had gone up 500 percent. Lucas says this data pushed the initiative into urgent action.


Not only does the program provide the medicine that removes the physical need for narcotics, it also identifies the members so they can stay on track to follow the doctor’s orders. Lucas says more women are enrolling in the program, and they work to keep them in long after the baby is born.


But the program’s success also comes from its openness and the staff who genuinely understand the barriers facing this fragile population.


“We were concerned that it would be hard to talk to these members. We learned that a lot of times, these individuals have burned every bridge that they have, and the people they have left in their lives are dangerous and actually encouraging them to use drugs,” Lucas says. “With this program, they learn there’s somebody there to really help them, and it’s a non-judgmental environment. We know how they got where they are and we understand.”


Lucas says that identifying challenges can be as simple as a quick conversation with the doctor, but it usually reveals complex barriers to getting medical care.


“There’s usually nonmedical care that has to happen for individuals to be in a place where they can think about getting care. If they have nonclinical barriers to getting care,” he says, “if that’s their reality – then it prevents them from getting the preventative care they need.”


SMART START FOR YOUR BABY 


In 2008, Lucas helped launch Buckeye Health’s Smart Start for Your Baby program, the health plan’s first effort to have a greater impact on pregnant mothers. It provides moms with information on pregnancy and early childhood through education and care management.

“You’d think it’d be intuitive that a health plan knows who’s pregnant, but that’s not always the case. We can’t even depend on claims because they can be delayed or inaccurate,” Lucas says. “We want to find out who’s pregnant and understand their overall risk of having an unhealthy outcome, unhealthy baby or low birth weight baby.”

The program stratifies that risk to see those who are most in peril and need to have more care management. These populations get home visits to meet their individual needs, Lucas says.

“Those that are low risk, we keep a lookout and see if risk changes to see if we need to move them into a more high-risk plan,” Lucas says. “They all receive information about pregnancy and written in culturally competent fashion for literacy needs for everybody. And if they need transportation to get to the doctor’s office, we provide it.”

More so than anything else, the health outcomes are based on behavioral health and social risk factors, which are called social determinants of health.

“Where they live is a more important predictor than their own medical history,” Lucas says.


Lucas lives in Chagrin Falls with his family, including young twin girls and two teenage sons.


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