BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The number of babies in Louisiana born addicted to opioids has doubled since 2013, but an innovative program is helping to bring those numbers back down. It’s now expanding to help more moms and babies.
The reason Courtney Saylor gave birth to a healthy baby girl on July 4, but Saylor was not sure if that day would even come.
“I was really sick when I found out I was pregnant. I was probably one of the worst heroin addicts anybody could come across," Saylor said.
Thanks to people like Kiona Hayes, a nurse at Woman’s Hospital, Saylor was able to overcome her addiction.
“These moms are such a vulnerable population, and so unique, and it’s actually hard to find them treatment and placement sometimes,” Hayes said.
To fill that gap, Woman’s launched a program called Guiding Recovery and Creating Empowerment for Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder, or GRACE. It connects women with resources around the city to get them clean before they deliver their babies. Over the last year, GRACE has helped about 75 local moms.
“The majority of the women have stayed adherent in their substance use treatment program, which is very encouraging,” said Hayes.
The program has been so successful, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has decided to use it as a pilot program for the entire state. So far, they’ve found one of the biggest challenges in helping more women is just breaking the stigma of addiction.
“A lot of the time, they come in guarded and fearful of what may happen for them and their baby because they fear that the baby will be taken, or they feel guilt that the babies will be sick and you know it’s their fault,” Hayes said.
Saylor says it was the personal touch of nurses like Hayes that made the difference.
“It didn’t feel like just a clinical relationship. She was always very friendly and very involved, and she cared, and I could tell she cared,” Saylor said.
Now, she’s using her story to encourage other women to seek the treatment that can change not just one life, but two.
“If one person hears what I’m saying today, and they can have the success that I’ve had and have a future with their baby, and their baby be healthy, it’s all worth it,” said Saylor.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the GRACE program, call Woman’s Hospital at 866-487-6291 or check out their website. It’s completely confidential.