"We would be supplying the baby with ever-decreasing amounts of morphine and giving therapeutic care."
The facility will be licensed and regulated by the state, complete with a medical director and nurses trained in caring for the babies. It will be operated as a not-for-profit corporate entity that will be in full compliance with state regulations.
Pediatricians would refer babies to Lily's Place, where they would remain until they no longer required drugs - about four to six weeks.
The facility would care for up to 30 babies with 16 nurseries: 13 double-occupancy and three single-occupancy. Noise and other stress factors would be kept at a minimum in the nurseries.
Also planned is an education center for the mothers.
"I've come to meet the moms; all of these moms know the physical pain of withdrawal, and when they see that their baby is experiencing the same physical pain, the mom has this moment of guilt. That's a real opportunity to reach and start her on her own recovery process," Brown said.
"It's not about pointing fingers. We've had moms who broke their backs in car accidents and became addicted to their prescription pain medicine and didn't plan to get addicted or pregnant.
"These moms are not scary people in alleys, shooting up. They're people you see at your church or on the street. You don't know they're addicted.
"Like everyone else, they feel bad about it. You have to support them. If you don't get them in a recovery program, the baby's outcome is not going to be the best it could be."
A building was donated, and organizers are hoping to complete the project by late summer or early fall with the help of local, state and corporate grants.
Because less medical equipment is needed, Brown said care in the facility will be much less costly than what the state is currently paying for hospital care for these babies.
Jenkins said beds in NICU areas generally cost a couple thousand dollars a night. At Lily's Place, stays will cost a couple hundred a night.
The facility is modeled after the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent, Wash. - the only center of its kind in the country, said Murray, the clinical adviser for Lily's Place.
Murray and another nurse traveled to the center and spent five days learning how they treat the babies. Murray and others will train incoming nurses at Lily's Place.
"We knew we needed to do something because we were used to only seeing four a year. We didn't know how to care for these babies. Now, we're consistently filling a 12-bed unit and having overflow into NICU," Murray said.
The group hopes that as the project gains momentum, it will encourage the opening of more facilities across the state.
"Our goal is to work with the hospital and have that dialogue and find our niche. I think Lily's Place is going to be a big asset for the babies. That's our number-one goal: providing the best care we can for the babies," Murray said.
"It's heart-wrenching to see what a big problem we have in this area . . . We are just in the infancy of Lily's Place, but we're working hard and have a long way to go and a lot of things to do . . . We want to be a voice for them and get them the kind of care they need."
For more information or to donate, visit www.lilysplace.org/default.html.
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