AHN Opens Bloomfield Space to Help Women Face Postpartum Depression Head-On
Interactive therapy space coincides with work being done at Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health at nearby West Penn Hospital.
Help for women enduring perinatal and postpartum depression wasn’t a concept 34 years ago when Kim Holmberg experienced the condition.
Kim and her husband, David Holmberg, president and CEO of Highmark Health, are now proud to support a new Allegheny Health Network’s Women’s Behavioral Health space dedicated to helping women overcome the conditions with an evidence-based interactive therapy model.
“The work of the Women’s Behavioral Health team is vitally important to the health and happiness of both mothers and their babies,” Kim Holmberg said Feb. 17 during the unveiling. “Perinatal mental health is near and dear to our hearts, and we’re proud to support such a great program offered at AHN.”
The new therapy space — located at AHN Behavioral Health Associates, 5140 Liberty Ave. — is a key component of the system’s integrative model of care. Through that model, mother and baby can receive comprehensive access to perinatal and behavioral health care in a safe, symbiotic treatment setting.
The new space includes an observation booth with a one-way mirror for the clinician, and equipment including a microphone and earpiece that allow for live coaching from the clinician to the parent during the therapy session.
Clinicians can work with parents and caregivers to help them understand and read their child’s emotional needs, support their child’s ability to manage emotions, enhance their child’s self-esteem, and develop secure parent-child interaction. Geared toward families with children ages 0 to 5, it can also help mothers having trouble with their toddlers, such as potty training woes and biting.
“We often see health care systems set up to treat the mental health of the child or the parent, viewing each as separate patients,” said Courtney Utz, director for Maternal Infant Health at AHN, during the unveiling. “Our integrative approach with the Maternal Infant Health program focuses on strengthening the relationship between mother and child, addressing both of their needs at the same time.”
Funding for the therapists’ training was awarded to the Women’s Behavioral Health program by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh in 2022.
For design guidance, clinicians from AHN teamed up with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to ensure that both rooms were developmentally appropriate and engaging for children and parents alike.
“The Children’s Museum appreciates the opportunity to work with the Women’s Behavioral Health team to refresh the spaces, focusing on specific ways we can support social-emotional learning by adding beautiful and playful elements that everyone can enjoy,” said Anne Fullenkamp, senior director of creative experiences for the Children’s Museum.
The Holmbergs’ donation helped offset the cost of renovations for both the therapy room and child care space.
Kim says she began experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression after both of their sons were born — 13 months apart.
“We were living in Atlanta at the time. My husband traveled a lot and I did not live near my family,” she recalls. “I just found myself crying all the time. Hearing the babies crying would devastate me. The condition wasn’t even known back then. Thankfully, I am blessed with a very supportive husband. I got help, but it wasn’t until much later.”
“My wife’s very smart!” David says. “This is a great organization and we are happy to be a part of it. You know, when there is an issue and you say, ‘Somebody’s gotta do something about this.’ These people are doing something. There are only a handful of facilities in the country that are doing this type of work.”
Kim adds she was connected with Steven D’Achille, husband of the late Alexis Joy D’Achille — who took her life 6 weeks after their daughter, Adriana, was born in August 2013. Steven has made it his mission to prevent something similar to happen to other families. He started the Alexis Joy D’Achille Foundation, partnered with AHN and opened the center named for his late wife at West Penn Hospital in 2018.
“A mutual friend connected me with Steven after he had released a commercial with his daughter when he wanted to open the center,” Kim recalls. “I was all in to help this important cause. It’s so horrific because sometimes women don’t share their stories. I want to share my story and let them know it’s all right for them to share theirs.”
Utz noted during the unveiling that the new therapy room will complement the comprehensive care that is already offered at the nationally recognized Alexis Joy Center a few blocks away.
Steven says he is humbled to honor his wife’s memory and help other families through difficult times. The Alexis Joy Center has served 15,000 Pittsburgh-area women and their families since its inception.
“I hear every day from women and men how the center has helped them,” he says. “Postpartum depression is not just a women’s health problem; it affects the whole family.”
Steven adds Pittsburgh is among the few areas in the country developing programs that provide this crucial care to families.
“We’re paving the way for other cities to follow,” he says. “I am so blessed to partner with Allegheny Health Network and keep this program going. They are addressing not just the needs of moms, but of the children and the families. To see the boss [Holmberg] put his own skin in the game, that speaks volumes.”