RICHMOND, Ind-- Officials at Reid Health in Richmond say nearly a third of mothers who gave birth at the hospital in 2016 tested positive for drugs.
Of the 684 women tested, 211 tested positive for drugs. More than 50 of those cases were positive for opiates such as heroin.
“This is a rural health issue. This is not limited to just Indiana or Wayne county, it’s happening all over the country,” Reid Health President and CEO Craig Kinyon said.
The hospital started testing expectant mothers in 2015 after they noticed an increase in addicted patients being admitted. Now the hospital performs drug tests on every expectant mother, so they can identify any problems before a birth.
“We really started drilling down on what are the drugs that we’re seeing and what’s happening here?” said Lisa Suttle, director of Strategic Initiatives, Community Psychiatric Services.
To help reduce the number of cases the hospital initiated a program called “Heroin is Here.” The program reaches out to community organizations, lawmakers, and residents to help educate, treat, and support those affected by addiction. Officials say their goal is to provide help to those outside of hospital walls. They say a large part of the fight is removing the stigma associated with addiction, which makes it more difficult for those struggling with addiction to reach out.
“We can’t make people be engaged, but we can support them in being engaged, when they want help.” Kinyon said.
Officials say it’s important to remember if a mother tests positive for drugs then the baby will also test positive. In 2016, 1 in 12 mothers tested positive for some type of illicit drug or high-risk medication.