U.S. Senator Rob Portman was in Kettering Monday morning as he paid a visit to the Promise to Hope Maternal Recovery Housing program. He is shown with Amanda Blake and her baby, Xavier.
Photo: WAYNE BAKER/STAFF
Photo: WAYNE BAKER/STAFF

Senator Portman visits Kettering’s Promise to Hope recovery program

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Tucked away in a Kettering neighborhood, the Miami Valley Hospital program Promise to Hope helps connect opioid-addicted mothers to treatment for moms and their babies during pregnancy and for up to a year after the birth.

The number of babies diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) — usually because of mothers using opiates like pain pills and heroin during pregnancy — has increased dramatically in recent years.

Programs such as Promise to Hope-Mother to Baby at Miami Valley Hospital are designed to address what has become an expensive problem: managing the number of NAS cases flooding area hospitals.

Portman toured the facility and talked with Promise to Hope’s leadership, Montgomery County ADAMHS leadership, and residents.

“We need to deal with these babies in a very careful, thoughtful way, so they can start life in a healthy manner,” he said. “That is what this group does, and it is extraordinary. I am really proud of what they are doing here.”

Promise to Hope has received more than $75,000 in federal grant funding from the 21st Century CURES Act and subsequent State Opioid Response Grant (SOR) program, legislation Portman championed.

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“I wanted to see how the money is being spent and to see what is working and what is not working,” Portman said. “I want to be able to go back to Washington and encourage lawmakers to continue to provide support.”

The senator noted how lawmakers have worked to secure $1 billion in new funding for state grants to fight opioid abuse in the 21st Century CURES Act and other legislation to fight addiction.

Amber Sochran-Scandrick has been through the program, and she told Portman that it has literally been a life-saver for her and her children, ages 9, 7 and 3.

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“I am living proof of it,” she said. “I never thought life could be the way it is today. This program has helped me and so many others. My life is perfect now.”

Kettering Mayor Don Patterson told Portman that mayors from every city and community in Ohio are working to fight the drug crisis.

The city is also home to Brigid’s Path, the first facility in Ohio and the second in the nation to offer an in-patient, home-like approach to serving babies born exposed to addictive substances.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck noted that the opioid crisis has hit hard locally and efforts to work to combat the issue will involve not just law enforcement, but rests with each member of the community.

“Addiction is here and it is going to be here,” he said.

One woman, Amanda Blake, holding her four-month-old baby Xavier, captured Portman’s attention as she shared the story of coming from West Virginia to Promise of Hope in a pickup truck driven by her cousin. Blake said she is where she is supposed to be and is flourishing thanks to the program.

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Portman said that now the woman and the others who are in the program have hope.

“You had promise and now you’ve come out of this program with hope,” he said, adding of the program’s leaders: “They provide a wonderful example of how community leaders are working together to find innovative ways to address this crisis in meaningful ways.”

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