As the drug epidemic holds firm grasp on Kentuckians statistics show 16 in every 1,000 babies in the state are born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS’s) signs or symptoms. Meanwhile, the numbers are even more staggering in Eastern Kentucky, where some counties more than double that statistic at roughly 40 babies for every 1,000, according to the state’s most recent study on NAS.
Three years ago, Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) opened Karen's Place Maternity Center (KPMC) to give expecting mothers hope on their recovery journey. Since its opening, KPMC's staff, in partnership with King’s Daughters Medical Center and University of Kentucky’s Blue Angels program, have helped welcome 149 babies into Appalachia; 76 percent of which have returned to the center with mom in five days or less.
"Babies born with NAS are born into agony, suffering from withdrawal symptoms and requiring specialized intensive neonatal care. Karen's Place Maternity Center is designed as an early intervention for pregnant and postpartum women to receive treatment for their addiction and give birth to a healthy baby," said ARC CEO and founder Tim Robinson.
Toddra Curry is one of the many mothers KPMC’s staff helped overcome addiction. She first entered the facility at 17 weeks pregnant on January 12th, 2017.
"I had been in and out of jails since turning 18 years old,” said Curry. "I was addicted to IV opiates. I had accepted that my life was too far gone, and I would never be able to do anything different."
However, while at KPMC a compassionate staff allowed her to realize her true destiny was not too far out of reach.
"They loved me when nobody else would, they believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself," Curry elaborated. "It was a beautiful experience. I formed a bond with my daughter that is unbreakable! Today, I can be her mother and show her how much I love her!"
Clients have the opportunity to receive residential treatment the entire length of their pregnancy and up to three months post-delivery while learning parenting skills. Baby and mom live together at the facility, giving mothers in recovery an opportunity to develop the critical early bond with their baby.
For those wondering, Curry is now a full-time employee of ARC, serving as program manager at Creekside, an ARC residential center for women. She directly receives calls from the judge who once sent her to prison asking for help in getting men and women into treatment. She has full custody of her children and is now married.
When asked what she would say to expecting mothers in need of help, Curry said, "Give it a chance. What I once thought was a punishment became my biggest opportunity".
KPMC is located on the campus of King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Kentucky, and welcomes up to 21 mothers and expecting mothers at a time. While there, mothers receive individual counseling along with weekly recovery small group and group therapy sessions. State-certified case managers work with each client to improve their recovery environment by addressing family, educational, housing, and vocational needs.