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DHMC to expand addiction treatment services for pregnant women

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 21. 2018 8:45PM
Rep. Annie Kuster,D-NH, second from left joined Dartmouth-Hitchcock officials to announce federal grant money to cope with the opioid crisis. Pictured at the podium is Dr. Julia Frew with CEO Joanne Conroy, left, and midwife Daisy Goodman (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center announced plans to expand its successful Moms in Recovery program to Manchester, Nashua and Berlin by June, thanks to a $2.7 million federal grant awarded last month.

The effort involves providing addiction treatment services to women when they are pregnant, which is when they are often most agreeable to treatment, officials said Wednesday. And it continues into the post-partum phase, when they are susceptible to relapse.

Women enrolled in the program will have access to Suboxone assisted treatment, intensive outpatient services and ongoing support, such as day care, transportation, housing, education and peer recovery.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a network of recovery-friendly obstetric practices around New Hampshire,” said Dr. Julia R. Frew, director of Moms in Recovery and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Center for Addiction Recovery in Pregnancy and Parenting.

Fewer than 10 percent of babies born through Moms in Recovery need medication treatment for withdrawal symptoms, Dartmouth-Hitchcock said. That compares to almost 50 percent of babies whose mothers aren’t in such a program.

As for the moms, 61 percent remain engaged with Moms in Recovery six months after birth. Fewer than 30 families in the program have child protection involvement.

“For a woman dealing with addiction, pregnancy can be a nightmare, trying to quit can be impossible,” said Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig.

Gov. Chris Sununu and the Executive Council approved the grant in January. The money was provided under the 21st Century Cares Act, which then-President Barack Obama signed in 2016.

Frew said her office has been completing the groundwork in the new locations for the program. Part of that work involves working out details with organizations that will run the program.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock has operated Moms in Recovery in Lebanon for nearly five years, and aspects of the program recently launched in Keene.

Frew said Moms in Recovery should open in Manchester/Bedford, Nashua and Berlin by May or June.

The other locations —Dover, Littleton and Laconia — will open later in the year.

Moms in Recovery will operate out of Dartmouth-Hitchcock obstetric clinics in the Manchester and Nashua areas. The Berlin effort will be coordinated with the Coos County Family Health Center, Frew said.

The annoucement came a day after Hope for New Hampshire Recovery announced it will close four of its five recovery centers — post-treatment centers where adults find peer-to-peer support, social activities and programs to assist with sobriety.

Congressman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said state officials want to make sure the programs they fund are living up to expectations.

“We need to increase access to treatment in New Hampshire, but there needs to be programs that are reliable and effective going forward,” she said.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock detailed the grant at a news conference hosted by Families in Transition, which operates its own treatment program for women at its South Beech Street location.

Also on hand for the announcment was Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO Dr. Joanne Conroy. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., was scheduled to attend but was sick, her staff said.

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