RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) – Hospitals are taking action to protect expectant mothers and their unborn children from drug addiction.
“We’re in healthcare. This is a disease and this is what we do. And we have to bring attention to this issue,” said Craig Kinyon, the president and CEO of Reid Health in Richmond Indiana.
The hospital just released numbers showing three in 10 mothers giving birth at the hospital tested positive for drugs last year.
24-Hour News 8 first reported the issue in May.
Officials started noticing an issue about five years ago. And then in 2015 they started testing all mothers who give birth there.
They say there’s too much on the line to do nothing.
“We’re not giving up, that’s for sure and we’re going to continue to look at it across the board,” said Lisa Suttle, who directs the psychiatric service line at the hospital. “It’s very helpful that we step in to educate them, to talk with them about the drugs that they’re using.”
684 babies were born at the hospital in 2016. 211 of them were born to mothers addicted to drugs.
“We feel a responsibility to talk about the problem and bring awareness to it. It’s much larger than just this one organization can handle,” said Kinyon.
The hospital is now working with local organizations to offer treatment to expectant mothers, and to women who are addicted to drugs to offer them birth control.
“What we really try to do is reach out to them to say let us help you,” said Suttle.
Most commonly, the mothers are addicted to opiods, like heroin, but also prescription pain killers. Other drugs the mothers tested positive for include marijuana, cocaine and drugs like Xanax and Valium.
They say drug use is particularly impacting mothers in rural areas.
“The magnitude of this problem is national and is impacting more the rural areas now than the urban which is a complete flip from say 20 years ago, so this is really infiltrating many communities across the country,” said Kinyon.
“If we can catch them during that prenatal period or during the birthing period to get services to them, to talk to them about what’s available and get them better to as better place in their life, that’s exactly what we want to do,” said Suttle.
The services the hospital and its partners are offering are free of charge.
They say while they’ve seen cases from women of all child-bearing ages, drug addiction is really impacting those from 18 to 27.
A major part of the service includes mental health screening. Officials say often times they have to tackle that, then the addiction. If not, the mother will likely start using again.