KALISPELL – Governor Steve Bullock visited Kalispell Regional Healthcare on Friday to take part in a roundtable with healthcare providers on Prenatal Substance Abuse — a growing epidemic in the Treasure State.
Gov. Bullock is looking for a solution and highlighted a new innovative program the hospital has implemented that’s improving the lives of children and families in Montana.
"It is shocking how many children babies are born that are drug addicted and it is significant in Montana," Gov. Bullock said.
Kalispell Regional Healthcare saw a 400% increase in babies admitted for treatment of withdrawal between 2010 and 2014 — and 86% went directly from the hospital to foster care.
"Three-thousand kids in foster care two-thirds of them almost have some relation to substance abuse," said Gov. Bullock.
The hospital has implemented a program that is reducing adverse outcomes of prenatal drug and alcohol use for newborns, women and families.
"Kalispell is leading the way in the state on this. First, a new shift saying let’s bring the services together even before that baby is born let’s identify that mom," said Gov. Bullock.
The governor added that while the state has seen a major decrease in health services for women and children it has seen an increase in the need for these services.
The program is supported by a grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation and private and public partnerships between state and local leaders. It works by advancing supportive, team-based care and coordination between health care providers and social service agencies.
Gov. Bullock says the program provides an opportunity to save not just one but two lives at a time.
"We know that if we can actually impact that mom when she is pregnant and abusing mother than we can fundamentally not only impact her life but we can impact that child," said Gov. Bullock.
State and local leaders will continue to work with Kalispell Regional Healthcare to fund the program’s screening tools to identify early on these mothers.