(Cleveland) - MetroHealth Medical Center has received a more than $395,000 state grant to help pregnant women recover from addition to heroin.

It's called the MOMS program, or Maternal Opiate Medical Support. Dr. Jennifer Bailit says these women will be offered a variety of recovery options, that they will coordinate with community agencies to provide a blanket of care.

Dr. Bailit reports, 98 pregnant opiate addicted women sought help at MetroHealth last year, and that number is expected to grow.

The Governor’s Office of Health Transformation awarded funding in hopes of reducing lengthy hospital stays and to promote improved health outcomes for mothers who are dependent on heroin, or other opiates, and their newborn babies.

Studies have shown that it is unsafe for women to taper off opiates entirely during pregnancies, due to concerns over potential stillbirth.

Buprenorphine, packaged under the brand name Subutex, has been associated with less neonatal dependency than methadone and has shortened the extended hospital stays of exposed newborns by more than one-third.

As a result, the pilot program is expected to lead to fewer admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit for 125 women and babies enrolled in the program over the course of the grant.


Dr. Jennifer Bailit explains the MOMS program.

“The Governor’s Office of Health Transformation is committed to identifying and supporting initiatives that lead to healthier outcomes,” said OHT Director Greg Moody. “MetroHealth is an innovation leader and the State of Ohio is glad to assist in its efforts to build a healthier community.”

The program is designed to give the mothers both choice and convenience. They will have options as to where to obtain medical care, drug addiction treatment and ancillary services.

MetroHealth has partnered with University Hospitals to help make the program as accessible as possible and to help women throughout Northeast Ohio.

In addition to treatment, the project will also support a limited amount of non-clinical services that are not reimbursable by Medicaid but that have been found to greatly assist in long-term recovery. Funds can be used for housing vouchers for transitional housing as well as transportation or brief babysitting for medical and treatment appointments.

“In the midst of Ohio’s opiate epidemic, it is easy to forget that there are some individuals who are experiencing the effects of this addiction who never chose to use drugs - babies born to opiate addicted mothers,” said Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “It is important to give children the best start in life that we can, and the M.O.M.S. project gives us an opportunity to do just that.”

The pilot was helped by a second $35,000 grant from March of Dimes. The multi-disciplinary opiate dependent mother’s clinic at MetroHealth already sees roughly 100 patients a year.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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