UK Expands Opioid Treatment for Pregnant Women to Rural Sites

May 8, 2018

Credit Stu Johnson

The University of Kentucky is expanding treatment for opioid addicted, pregnant women into rural parts of the state.  The program is being funded through a $5 million contract.

The contract with the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute will take UK’s PATHways program to 12 rural communities in eastern and northeastern Kentucky.  Dr. Agatha Critchfield is medical director of PATHways. “Half of the sites will receive their care via telemedicine, a telemedicine platform that we currently utilize, and half of the sites will have on site group care with nurse navigators and peer support specialists,” said Critchfield.

The PATHways progam helps pregnant women or new mothers with opioid use disorder. It includes medication-assisted therapy, substance abuse counseling, and prenatal and parenting group sessions.  

Critchfield says the PATHways program has been around for four years. Its clients have been shown to have lower rates of relapse and fewer babies born addicted to drugs.

The PATHways Director says the misconception that addiction is not a long-term, relapsing medical disorder has, quote, “gotten us partly where we are.”  “We really need to adjust our attitudes toward this disorder and start to embrace it as a chronic medical disease and see all the other social consequences that come out of it and behaviors that come out of it as a symptom of the disease,” explained Critchfield.

UK officials say more than 200 women have used the support services offered in Lexington.