With the support of a Centers of Excellence (COE) grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pregnancy Recovery Center (PRC) at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC will expand its addiction program to UPMC Hamot this fall to address the growing need for specialized treatment for pregnant women who have an opioid use disorder.
Beginning in early October, UPMC Hamot and Safe Habor Behavioral Health (SHBH) of UPMC Hamot will launch the PRC at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot, an outpatient program that provides concurrent treatment for women struggling to combat opioid dependency while they receive prenatal care. It is modeled after the PRC clinic at Magee, which was one of the first clinics of its kind and has provided this comprehensive treatment since 2014.
“Magee’s PRC was created out of necessity to help a large population of prenatal patients who were using opioids during their pregnancy and to help their newborns experience fewer symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) or opioid withdrawal, after birth,” explained Patty Genday, executive director of women’s services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “This is a growing, national epidemic and our hope is that the PRC at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot will make it easier for addicted moms-to-be in the Erie area to seek help.”
All PRC patients are prescribed buprenorphine, which is effective for converting patients off opioids, or another opioid replacement, on an outpatient basis. Treatment also includes behavioral counseling, consultations with social workers, routine prenatal check-ups and postpartum counseling. Counseling services will be provided by SHBH of UPMC Hamot.
“Erie has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic and nearly 20 percent of all admissions to our neonatal intensive care unit are babies experiencing NAS,” said Michelle Wright, D.O., director of the PRC at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot. “The PRC clinic is special because it works to help patients in three important ways: first, the program addresses the medical condition of opioid addiction, then it delivers specialized prenatal care with buprenorphine and, lastly, it provides postpartum counseling, care and support to help these mothers succeed.”
Research suggests that pregnant women using buprenorphine instead of methadone recover faster after birth, and babies experience fewer side effects. Sixty percent of babies born at Magee to mothers treated with methadone require medication for NAS, whereas only 35 percent of newborns whose mothers received treatment from the PRC require medication.
“Addiction has many causes, and treatment must be supported in holistic and trauma-informed ways,” said Mandy Fauble, Ph.D., executive director, SHBH of UPMC Hamot. “By providing substance use disorder counseling and coordination to address other needs, women can address the root causes of their addiction, find positive supports, and increase the stability of their new families.”
The PRC at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot has received local funding from the Hamot Health Foundation, the Erie Women’s Fund and the United Way of Erie County.