To protect Harford County’s youngest citizens from the heroin epidemic seizing the nation, County Executive Barry Glassman and his administration are initiating an innovative program to reduce drug addiction in newborn babies. “Project Healthy Delivery” is designed to help address the more than 70 babies born exposed to drugs and/or alcohol in Harford County each year. Over the past 14 years, the Health Department reports a 142 percent increase in the number of Harford County newborns exposed to drugs and/or alcohol. More than 300 babies were born addicted to drugs in the last four years alone.
Project Healthy Delivery’s mission is to give newborns the best chance for a healthy life by reducing substance abuse and offering addiction treatment to expectant mothers. Project Healthy Delivery is also an investment in education, as studies have shown that babies born to drug and alcohol addiction are at an increased risk of learning disabilities and developmental delays.
Presently, there are no treatment options in Harford County for pregnant women suffering from addiction. The closest option is the Center for Addictions and Pregnancy, or CAP Center, at Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus in Baltimore. Transportation challenges often impede treatment for pregnant women living in Harford County who need to travel to the Center several times a week for effective treatment.
Under Project Healthy Delivery, treatment resources will be brought to Harford County through a partnership between Harford County government, the Birthright of Bel Air Pregnancy Center, Addictions Connections Resource (ACR), and Father Martin’s Ashley Outpatient Treatment Program at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital. Pregnant women seeking assistance will be offered drug and alcohol assessments, counseling, and individualized treatment plans at the hospital in Bel Air from Dr. Mariana Izraelson and her treatment staff at the Ashley Outpatient Treatment Center.
Harford County government will provide funding from County Executive Glassman’s heroin initiative to help cover the expense of drug testing and mental health screening, transportation, and “gap” funding for uninsured mothers and treatment services not covered by insurance. ACR will provide case management and financial support for this at-risk population. Birthright will offer expectant mothers support, family planning and parenting classes.
“Project Healthy Delivery is a multidisciplinary approach that eliminates the obstacles keeping this high-risk population of women and children from receiving the care they need,” said Joe Ryan, manager of the Harford County Office on Drug Control Policy. The Office is also collecting baby items and other donations to provide incentives for expectant mothers to remain in treatment. Many contributions have already been received from individual citizens and nonprofit groups.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has made the fight against heroin a primary objective for his administration.
“With this next step in the County’s heroin initiative, it is our goal to strengthen our community by delivering healthy infants to mothers who no longer abuse drugs or alcohol,” said County Executive Glassman.
For more information about Project Healthy Delivery, please contact the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy at 410-638-3333 or e-mail ODCP@harfordcountymd.gov