Temple center helps pregnant women facing addiction
The Temple/Wedge Center of Excellence, funded by a $500,000 state grant, will fill a crucial gap in care for expectant mothers battling addiction to opioids.
Temple University Hospital joined forces with Wedge Medical Center to launch an innovative drug treatment program designed specifically for pregnant women battling opioid addiction.
The partnership between Temple and Wedge Medical Center, which specializes in mental health and substance use treatment, is funded by a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Located in North Philadelphia, the Temple/Wedge Center of Excellence is one of about 50 such centers established across the state to address the opioid epidemic.
As part of the state’s continued commitment to address the crisis, Gov. Tom Wolf visited Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine Jan. 30 to join a group of legislators and Temple researchers and clinicians in a roundtable discussion about opioids. It was Wolf’s second stop at Temple in recent months, after a visit to the university’s Center for Substance Abuse Research in June.
“Ensuring that Pennsylvanians have access to the mental health and substance use care that they need is a priority for my administration. Every day, we lose 10 Pennsylvanians to the disease of opioid addiction and 3,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives in 2015 alone,” Wolf said in a statement. “I applaud Temple University for recognizing that substance use disorder is a disease, not a choice and I want to thank them for doing their part in battling this epidemic.”
The Temple/Wedge center is staffed by experts in addiction medicine, high-risk pregnancy and mental health care to provide support to an estimated more than 300 pregnant women and their partners each year. Many drug treatment programs already in existence do not accept pregnant women, so the Temple/Wedge center will help to close a crucial gap in care.
“Over the past decade, rates of maternal opioid use have skyrocketed, which has led to many medical issues with their babies as well as increased costs of care,” said Laura Goetzl, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine and director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Temple University Hospital.
Patients in the program receive not only addiction treatment, but also integrated primary care, behavioral health services and medication-assisted treatment.
“The Philadelphia area is by no means immune to this crisis. We at Temple plan to be a significant part of the effort that is fighting back,” Temple President Richard M. Englert said. “At Temple, we have focused on addiction since before the recent wave of headlines.”
Women are referred to the Temple/Wedge Center of Excellence for care via primary care doctors, emergency departments, hospitals and correctional facilities, said Laura A. Hart, the center’s medical director and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
“During the first visit, we examine patients to determine whether they could be treated with buprenorphine, a legal medication that is used to treat opioid addiction,” Hart said.
For the more than half of those who have a psychiatric disorder in addition to or caused by substance use disorder, the Temple/Wedge program helps to create a pathway to continuing psychiatric care. Patients with the need for mental health care are referred for combined obstetric and psychiatric treatment at Temple’s Episcopal Campus. Those receiving medication-assisted treatment also receive continued counseling through Wedge.
“Temple and Wedge also educate local obstetricians and work with other maternity programs to make sure we’re all offering the best care,” Goetzl said. “What we’ve really created is the central hub in North Philadelphia that addresses the dire need for community-based multidisciplinary care of pregnant women battling opioid use disorder.”
For more information about the Temple/Wedge Opioid Treatment Program, contact Wedge at 215-276-3922.