Pubdate: Fri, 26 Oct 2007
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Don Finley
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Armed with a $2.5 million federal grant, a new program  will try to 
help drug-addicted pregnant women in Bexar  County -- and their 
babies -- escape addiction and  their old lives.

Project Carino, run by the Center for Health Care  Services, will 
accept 36 women a year into a nine-month  outpatient program, or 
about 180 over the next five  years, officials said Friday at a news 

"Right now I would say we have about 35 pregnant  females in 
(existing) services," said Moses Esquivel,  who heads narcotics 
programs at the center. "They're  such a high-need clientele. They 
really require a lot  of attention, a lot of services. They drain us. 
That's  why we looked for this grant, to give us the extra  resources 
to be able to bring more people in and  physically address these issues."

That number is about twice as high as in previous  years. Most of the 
women voluntarily come forward for  help, Esquivel said, adding that 
many more remain in  the community.

Wendy Ewing, a nurse who runs a parenting program for  female addicts 
at the center, said many get little or  no prenatal care.

"They don't care to get it either, because it's so hard  to get and 
be on welfare and food stamps, and ...  because they are into drugs 
and have (criminal) records  and all," Ewing said.

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, who once  worked as a social 
worker in the center's narcotics  program, said the grant from the 
Substance Abuse Mental  Health Services Administration is badly needed.

"Individuals who are addicted to heroin and other  illicit drugs can 
find the support and the treatment  that they need to find the path 
back to clean and sober  lives," Rodriguez said.

The program will be a collaboration between the center  and the Bexar 
County Family Drug Treatment Court, Child  Protective Services, the 
Baptist Health System, and  community housing and HIV service 
providers. It will  bring together substance abuse treatment, 
counseling,  parenting skills training, transitional housing and 
employment services.

"What we want to do is help facilitate anything that  they need in 
helping them getting their life on track,"  said Jennifer Hussey, a 
program manager at the center.

Dr. Robert Jimenez, a psychiatrist and board chairman  of the center, 
suggested the program could quickly pay  for itself.

"If things go wrong with a child who is born to an  addicted mother, 
it will cost somewhere in the  neighborhood of $700,000 to care for 
that child and the  complications that result from this illness," 
Jimenez  said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom