BUTTE, Mont. — A new program at St. James Healthcare that’s helping pregnant women combat substance abuse and other mental health issues is being called a success by patients.
The program is called the “First 1,000 Days.” It focuses on development from before the child is born to when it becomes a toddler.
The program received a $150,000 grant last year from the Montana Healthcare Foundation.
The money allows them to work with other local health organizations to provide addiction treatment services for pregnant women.
Every new OB patient at St. James Healthcare now goes through a screening process to determine their pregnancy health status, according to Joslin Hubbard, a St. James Healthcare social worker.
Since January 2019, 63 new OB patients have been screened, according to documents from St. James Healthcare. Of those 63 patients, 20 of them screened either at high or moderate risk for substance use concerns.
“It’s not about taking kids away from moms, it’s about how we help support them to change the paradigm so that they can be good mothers,” said George Mulcaire-Jones, a physician at St. James healthcare.
23-year-old Butte resident Brittney Lopez completed the program after previously struggling with substance abuse.
“I was 33 weeks pregnant when I relapsed and I had a bad addiction to meth,” Lopez said.
Lopez ended up going to the Montana Chemical Dependency Center, where she was connected with Hubbard, who helped her overcome her addiction.
Lopez says she’s thankful the program helped her get on the right path for her newborn son, Matteo.
“I didn’t expect it to turn out this well, but I’m glad that it did. I was using drugs really bad before I came to treatment, and now I just have a different outlook on everything,” Lopez said.
Now Lopez and her son are headed to a sober living home in Helena.