Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Manchin, Jenkins Take Tour of Infant Recovery Center ; Other States Look to Replicate Huntington's Unique Operation

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Manchin, Jenkins Take Tour of Infant Recovery Center ; Other States Look to Replicate Huntington's Unique Operation

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - Eight newborn babies, quietly tucked inside dimly lit nurseries, were the stars of the show as U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Congressman Evan Jenkins on Thursday toured Lily's Place - a residential infant recovery center in Huntington. After walking through the facility, Manchin and Jenkins called the center a tremendous success, despite the fact that it has been operational for less than a year.

Standing inside the center's tiny lobby - and away from the slumbering infants - Manchin praised the dedicated staff members who started the organization and promised to bring the center's early successes to the attention of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

"We're one of a kind, declared Manchin, stressing the value the center has on a community that is suffering from an ongoing drug epidemic.

"The No. 1 killer in our state is prescription drug abuse, the former governor said.

The problem, he surmised, was not only due to prescribers who are writing prescriptions for powerful painkillers for procedures as mundane as dental work but also the drug manufacturers themselves.

Lily's Place formed in an attempt to combat an issue that affects many throughout the country, including West Virginia.

Nationally, it is estimated as many as 13,000 babies born each year suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome - the clinical term for newborns who are exposed to addictive drugs while in the mother's womb and come into the world suffering withdrawal pains.

In 2013, about 11 percent of the babies born at Cabell Huntington Hospital suffered from neonatal abstinence syndrome.

To combat the growing problem, the founders of Lily's Place focused on a new concept.

"We take babies who are born drug-exposed and bring them in and wean them medically, using therapeutic handling, a low-stimulus environment and pharmacological help, said Mary Brown, a founding member of the center and former executive director.

Since accepting its first baby on Oct. 2, 2014, Lily's Place has been a temporary home to about 50 babies, Brown said. …

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