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Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Launches First-of-its-Kind Recovery Center for Pregnant Women with Substance Use Challenges

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Gloria Kreps
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PITTSBURGH, Aug. 20, 2014Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, in collaboration with four local insurance companies and the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health, has launched a comprehensive Pregnancy Recovery Center to provide concurrent treatment for opiate dependence and prenatal care and delivery. The program is one of the first in the country.
The program, created in conjunction with four managed care organizations (Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, UPMC for You, Gateway Health, and United Healthcare for Families and Communities) and Allegheny County, provides pregnant women who struggle with an opiate dependence the opportunity to begin treatment with buprenorphine on an out-patient basis that is integrated with their obstetric services. Like methadone, buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opioid addiction. In addition to the buprenorphine, patients will receive behavioral counseling and clinic visits as well as routine prenatal care. Patients also will meet with social workers and midwives.
“This effort is an excellent example of ways in which payers and providers can come together to develop an innovative initiative that will improve outcomes for pregnant women and their children. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues,” said John Lovelace, president of UPMC for You.
“For over a decade, Magee has offered drug recovery assistance for pregnant women,” said Dennis H. English, M.D., vice-president of Medical Affairs at Magee. “The key difference between this program and our more traditional methadone program is the Pregnancy Recovery Center operates from the outset on an outpatient basis. The pregnancy recovery center also will provide consistent, collaborative care throughout the patient’s pregnancy.”
According to Dr. English, pregnancy can enhance a woman’s chances at recovering from opiate addiction. The instinct to care for a newborn baby can be a powerful motivating factor for some women.
James Schuster, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer of Community Care, notes that, “A key goal of treatment for substance abuse is to help individuals stay engaged in care for at least 90 days. This program is a well-designed effort to support pregnant women in ongoing treatment.”
“Treating pregnant patients with buprenorphine is a relatively new practice,” said Michael Madden, M.D., chief medical officer of Gateway Health. “Early research suggests babies born to mothers taking it instead of undergoing methadone treatment recover more quickly after birth. Recovering from an opiate dependency is a difficult process. We hope this approach will make it easier for our pregnant patients to recover from their dependencies and start their parenting journey confidently and in good health.”
The Pregnancy Recovery Center’s goal is to offer comprehensive care for women suffering from opiate addiction by providing medical support to prevent withdrawal during pregnancy, minimizing fetal exposure to illicit substances and engaging the mother as a leader in her recovery. Women interested in learning more about the program should call 412-641-1211.