NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - County leaders gathered for a presentation Tuesday recognizing the launch of the Tides organization in Wilmington.
"In the first eight months in 2017, 20 percent of the babies born at the hospital were addicted to opioids," said Chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Woody White. "We're doing something about it and we're partnering with Dr. (William) Johnstone's program, which is a data-driven, results-oriented program. It's odd to say we're excited about that because it's such a serious, sad topic, to be honest with you. But what we are excited about is the outcomes because these women and these babies are healthier."
Tides is a non-profit which provides evidence-based treatment services to pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder. The program is based on a decade of sustainable treatment within the UNC Hospital system.
Tides' mission is to keep mothers with their children by engaging pregnant women with opioid use disorder in recovery processes.
Johnstone, MD and UNC professor of obstetrics and gynecology, launched Tides in October 2017. He said the program helps the mothers and the county as a whole.
"It leads to county dollars being spent for foster parents if these babies are deemed not worthy to go home with their mom," Johnstone said. "Our mission is to keep the mother-baby dyad together by teaching them these parenting and these life skills."
After noticing an increase in the number of patients with opioid use disorder, Johnstone began to educate himself about opioid use and went on to complete the American Society of Addiction Medicine's treatment of opioid use disorder course.
New Hanover County is funding a three-year pilot program with Tides, providing $315,360 each year to secure treatment for 24 women in the county.
"When their parents are ready to make a decision to change their life, it's our job to help those babies because they have a bright future and we want to do everything we can to ensure they have a bright future and have the same choices we all have," White said. "It is very sobering to think about it and when we see the data of the lives that are changed because of it, it makes us know that it's the right decision."