Since officially opening in October of 2014, Lily’s Place has cared for 91 babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
The Need for a Special Facility
Babies arrive at the facility on 7th avenue in Huntington suffering from different levels of withdrawal involved in neonatal abstinence syndrome. Rhonda Edmunds is the Director of Nursing at Lily's Place.
"They tremor a lot, uncontrollably, they can’t rest well between their feedings, sometimes they can’t take a bottle very well because they are so over stimulated," Edmunds said. "There are a lot of stomach issues involved where they cry with abdominal pain and there is loose stools the effects of that which sometimes causes their skin to break down."
Babies born with NAS, are born addicted to drugs and alcohol. Lily’s Place, working with Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington, takes in the babies for extended care so hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units can make room for babies born with other sicknesses. Lily’s Place can house up to 12 babies at a time.
What is being done to continue to help.
When babies come to the facility they are set up with child protective services to ensure that the family and the mother make efforts to become clean so they can take care of the baby. In the 2014 legislative session house bill 2999 was passed and enacted that gives a separate designation for NAS centers, making it easier for other communities around the state to establish centers.
At the federal level Congressman Evan Jenkins is sponsoring the Cradle Act. The hope is to pass legislation that will make it easier for communities around the country to create similar facilities like Lily’s Place. At this time the Cradle Act is in the Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress and currently has 33 co-sponsors.
According to Reuters, in 2013 108 of every 1,000 babies born in Huntington were diagnosed with NAS. Statewide the number was 37 of every 1,000 babies, which was five times the national rate of 7 out of 1,000 babies. Jenkins said these facilities are needed all over the state.
"NAS babies are not limited to Huntington, I’ve held meetings at Raleigh General in Raleigh County, with both hospitals in Mercer County, I’ve been to Greenbrier County, I’ve been to virtually every hospital in the 3rd congressional district and everyone indicates a significant increase," Jenkins said.
The next step for Lily's Place.
Rebecca Crowder is the Executive Director of the facility. She says there are still problems they are trying to overcome, such as the inability to accept babies and families from nearby Ohio and Kentucky which make up some of the babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome at Cabell-Huntington hospital. She said they’re ultimate goal is to offer help to the mothers that are dealing with addiction problems.
"Our goal is to create a place where the mothers can get the treatment they need, but also have that transition into a living situation where their child can join them in this process and we can teach them not just the coping skills, but the basic living skills they need to go out there and be successful in a career path and as a parent," Crowder said.
Babies stay at the facility anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months where they help them deal with the addiction they’re born with. Lily’s place hopes to expand from 12 beds to 16 beds sometime this summer.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.