FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A $150,000 donation by Aetna Better Health of Kentucky is helping jump start a new facility in southeast Kentucky to provide addiction recovery treatment for pregnant women, as well as those with small children.
Freedom House, operated by Volunteers of America, provides a residential treatment program designed to treat the women’s drug or alcohol dependency, break the cycle of addiction in families, reunite families broken apart by addiction, and to promote the birth of healthy, drug-free babies.
Jennifer Hancock, CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States, said, “We are so proud to have a solution right here in Kentucky that is nationally recognized as the most effective way to address maternal addiction.”
She said the program saves money in a variety of ways, through their experience at their Louisville facilities.
“We save money on very expensive care for neo-natal abstinence syndrome, that so often accompanies maternal substance use disorder. We save money on emergency room visits, out of home placement and the criminal justice system. And, we have delivered 197 healthy babies to Kentucky.”
Jennifer Collins of Lexington, who now works at Freedom House, is a graduate of the program herself. “When I became pregnant, I was told I was a liability, everywhere I reached out to, because I knew I needed help, I couldn’t do it by myself. When I got to Freedom House, they showed me the way. They were loving and it was so homey. They made sure I got the care I needed, and I learned so many things that prepared me to live on my own and be the mother my children needed me to be.”
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, which is where the new Freedom House will be located, says there is nothing to prepare you for seeing a child with neo-natal abstinence syndrome.
“You go to the birthing area of a hospital, and you see a child that you can hold in your hands that is quivering, shaking, because it is chemically dependent. This is not the way a life should begin.”
The Freedom House in Manchester is the first to be located outside Louisville and will house up to 20 women from across Kentucky in a residential treatment program that will provide continual support for up to three years.
The program is free to the women, according to Hancock. She says Medicaid pays much of the costs, with donations to the program and fundraising activities making up the rest.
It is expected to open in July or August, at the site of a former children’s home.