1500 North Ritter Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46219
In late 2016, Kim M. was pregnant with her third child when she decided enough was enough. The prescription pain pills she had used on and off since a foot surgery in 2002 and for the pain that followed had taken a toll on her, and she didn’t want them to adversely affect her unborn child.
“I didn’t want to admit I was an addict,” she said. “I kept thinking I was just going to my doctor and getting prescriptions refilled. Really, I was the worst drug addict of all.”
Her primary care physician referred her to Anthony Sanders, MD, an OB/GYN practicing at Community Hospital East and the physician lead for CHOICE, the maternal substance use program at Community Health Network. In 2016, he became a provider of buprenorphine, commonly called subutex, to help treat expectant mothers with an opioid addiction.
To start the program, Kim was admitted to the hospital for three days of detox. She needed to agree to group meetings called MOMentum twice a week, and she met outpatient with a counselor a couple of times of month.
During her pregnancy, she also had an appointment with Dr. Sanders every two weeks. He carefully checked her buprenorphine dosage, monitored the health of the baby and followed up with Kim’s counselors to ensure she was attending her therapy sessions.
At first, Kim was not looking forward to the group sessions. Several months earlier, Kim had attempted to die by suicide by taking all of her pain pills. She didn’t feel like she could cope with everything life threw her way and didn’t know a way out. She’d tried rehab – twice – but it didn’t stick, and she thought these group sessions would have the same affect.
“I didn’t think it would work,” she said. “In the beginning, I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to share or admit I was an addict. Over time, I realized how we can support each other as we work to get clean for our children, and I realized I was able to change.”
She also realized the point of the program was that you couldn’t pick and choose which parts you completed; that, in fact, getting and staying clean required all of the parts combined.
At Community, all of those parts included resources outside of expert medical care. The support she received was all-encompassing, from the fact that Kim could reach her counselor at all hours for much-needed support to the team approach they took in providing her care and meeting some basic needs.
“My counselors were always there to take my call and were constantly connecting me to community resources for help,” she explained. “Those resources helped me provide Christmas gifts for my children, ensured I had the proper supplies for my baby and identified services I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed.”
In June of 2017, Kim delivered a healthy baby boy under the care of Dr. Sanders at Community East.
Following delivery, she continued therapy and the MOMentum sessions for a period of time. As inspiration to the expectant mothers in the group, she would bring along her son to show that it was possible to overcome anything if they stuck with it.
Today, Kim knows what her life would be like had she not sought help from Community.
“Without Community Health Network, I probably would be dead,” she said. “At the very least, I would have moved on to heroin. I wouldn’t have custody of my children. I really don’t think I’d be here. Now, because of the support I received, I own my home, I hold down a job, I have my kids and I’m 23 months clean.”
Her message to women facing a similar situation? Seek help and stick with it.
“Too many women are hiding and doing drugs, and their babies are paying the price,” she said. “I want to get it out to people that there is help, that there is a program that can support them on a path to recovery.”