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Center offers opioid help

Saying that it has found a need in Butler County for addiction treatment services for pregnant women, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC has expanded its Pregnancy Recovery Center (PRC) program to five new locations, including one at the hospital’s Womancare offices at Pullman Square Plaza in Butler.

The centers provide treatment for pregnant women addicted to opioids and illicit drugs like heroin, and use buprenorphine rather than methadone — a change the hospital says helps pregnant women recover faster and babies born with opioid exposure experience fewer side effects.

“I think it’s clear why we’re doing it,” said Patty Genday, executive director of women’s services at Magee. “There’s a need to try and handle the opioid addiction crisis. Our (part) relates to pregnant women.”

In 2014, the PRC became one of the early programs in the nation to provide treatment for opioid addiction as well as prenatal care and delivery all in one place.

Bringing that treatment package to Butler was a decision the hospital made after Genday said the area was identified as having many women who need treatment for opioid dependency and also have socio-economic issues that might prevent them from being able to get treatment at Magee, which is based in Pittsburgh.

Now the hospital’s office at 200 Pullman Square Plaza will offer buprenorphine treatment — a program the hospital says is better for expectant mothers and their unborn children than methadone — as well as obstetrics and gynecological services.

The PRC program uses screenings that include an interview and drug tests to determine whether patients are eligible for the program, and treatment also includes behavioral counseling, clinic visits and consultations with social workers, in addition to routine prenatal checkups.

Genday said the hospital’s research suggests that using buprenorphine helps pregnant women recover faster after birth, and fewer babies born with opioid exposure experience fewer side effects and less often require medication for withdrawal versus treatment regimes that focus on methadone.

“What I have found with this program is that our young, pregnant women are very happy to have this option,” Gurdy said. “No pregnant woman wants to be taking illicit drugs, because they know the risks.”

The expansion comes after Magee received a Centers of Excellence grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

People interested in setting up an appointment at the center can do so by calling 412-641-1211.