SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The coronavirus pandemic is linked to an increase in opioid abuse according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
September is National Recovery Month and the department is awarding the Wright Center for Community Health with federal dollars to help continue its mission to combat the epidemic.
With the opioid epidemic, the Wright Center is focusing on women who are pregnant. Through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, the Wright Center will continue to help those mothers.
In 2018, the country saw its lowest number of deaths related to the opioid epidemic in decades.
That’s according to Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The pandemic has brought new challenges and we’re also seeing new substances emerge as a major concern, especially stimulants such as methamphetamine. That’s why we’re doubling down our commitment to this fight,” said Hargan.
Hargan visited the Wright Center on Monday as the department awarded them with half a million dollars. It will be used to prevent neonatal abstinence syndrome through the center’s Healthy Moms program in rural communities of Pike, Wayne and Susquehanna Counties.
“The things that are happening to these children, really at the dawn of life, can carry on, ramified throughout these communities,” said Hargan.
“Mothers who are pregnant and they come to us have literally no one to support them and the Healthy Moms program is that program,” said Maria Kolcharno, director of addiction services at the Wright Center for Community Health.
Kolcharno helped bring Healthy Moms to the center in 2018. It has served 144 mothers and 68 babies have been born to Healthy Moms participants. The money awarded will help the center provide medication-assisted treatment, housing, counseling and more.
“OB-GYN care as early as we possibly can because those babies really then will stay healthy. Healthy moms, healthy babies,” said Kolcharno.
Through the Health Resources and Services Administration, it awarded $25 million to 80 recipients across 36 states. Several of them were right here in Pennsylvania.
Medical professionals at the Wright Center encourage anyone struggling with opioid abuse to seek help.