Baptist Health starts program for pregnant people struggling with addiction

Jul. 28—A new program at Baptist Health Richmond provides women with substance use disorder support throughout all stages of pregnancy.

A substance use disorder is defined as a disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to a person’s inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications.

According to hospital officials, members of the the HOPE Program can receive therapy, support and medication assisted treatment.

The program began in April at the hospital.

“The HOPE program is specifically designed for pregnant women who have a history or current substance use disorder,” Kelsey Craft, HOPE program coordinator, said. “It really came about because we felt the need in the hospital and in the community. Over the past 20 years, there have been a lot of cases of NAS, which is neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

According to health officials, neonatal abstinence syndrome is a group of conditions caused when a baby withdraws from certain drugs that they were exposed to in the womb prior to birth. NAS is most often caused when a mother takes opioids during pregnancy.

Support services provided by the HOPE program include team approach to care, prenatal, pregnancy and postpartum support, targeted case manager, peer support specialist and care transitions navigator, medication-assisted treatment and group or individual therapy.

“We meet as a group, but we also work with them one-on-one because each of them have different needs and they’re at a different place in life and a different place in their recovery,” Craft said.

Craft said the program also helps find the mother what she needs including housing, transportation, job, items for the baby and creates “a care plan” for each mother.

“We encourage them to come back and bring the baby with them,” Craft said. “It’s good for them, to continue working on their postpartum and recovery. Plus, it’s good for the other ladies who haven’t delivered yet to see the reward of sticking with it — putting in the time and effort.”

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