The Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation for Postpartum Depression 

“Alexis Joy D’Achille was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a dear friend.”         

Giving birth to a baby is usually a happy and rewarding experience.  Unfortunately, not every mother is elated when they welcome their newborn into this world.  Steven D’Achille knows all too well that some women suffer from postpartum depression after they deliver.         

         On Aug. 30, 2013, Steven and his wife, Alexis Joy D’Achille welcomed a beautiful new baby daughter, Adriana. “This was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives; it ended up being the most challenging, brutal reality.  After our daughter’s birth, Alexis was diagnosed with PTSD.  This was a shock to us because prior to giving birth, Alexis has zero mental health issues.  Each day she became more irrational, paranoid and cried more.  She had been calling her OB-GYN, psychiatrist and pediatrician during the time period,” said Steven. 

       “In our struggles to find help for my wife, we went to seven different hospitals and crisis centers within a 13-day span.  Tragically, five and a half weeks after Adriana was born, Alexis took her own life.” Steven added. 

        In his grief, Steven decided that he did not want to see another woman fall through the cracks and not get the proper treatment they need for PPD.  He founded the Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation for Postpartum Depression in her memory.  The foundation is a partnership with Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

          There is a temporary PPD unit at West Penn, but a permanent state-of-the-art 7,000-foot facility will open there on December 20.  “Moms in Pittsburgh are now able to receive the proper care that they need.  A huge emphasis is on mother-baby bonding, that’s what sets us apart from other places.  Moms can stay and have their babies with them.  These women already feel like they are bad moms; it is not really fair to separate them from their newborn.  They need to be kept together, so they can form a bond.  Trained specialists observe them and help them if they are struggling,” said Steven. 

        The program also has some other unique features.  There is a chef demo to help with nutrition, and husbands are encouraged to participate.  There is a core team that helps with psychiatric care, counseling, both individual and group sessions.  There is also intensive outpatient therapy, lactation consultants and nurses are available for around-the-clock care.  The hospital also offers mood disorder screenings. 

        Steven feels that “People need to understand that PPD is not just a women’s health issue, it is a family health issue.  Since my wife Alexis lost her battle with postpartum suicide, Pittsburgh has decided to not wait for another tragedy and to do something about it.  Moms in Pittsburgh can now see a psychiatrist in less than 48 hours because of Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Alexis Joy Foundation.  I am confident in the near future it will be under 24 hours.”  For more information on this perinatal and postpartum depression, visit https://www.ahn.org/specialties/womens-health/womens-behavioral-health/perinatal-depression-and-its-symptoms. 

   Please visit: https://www.alexisjoyfoundation.org/ for more information about the Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation, to donate or attend their events in support of new mothers and their families.

        

 By Paula Green 

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