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Posted 09/30/2021

Prenatal and Addiction Care for Women in Incarceration

Women have unique medical needs related to the reproductive system and child-bearing that require specialty health services. Without this care, their health, along with the health of unborn and newborn babies, may be compromised long-term.

Women with addictions or those at a higher risk for substance use disorders may not understand the importance of gynecologic and obstetric health services. Or, they may not have access to these crucial services due to barriers such as finances, transportation, family support, or incarceration.

The mission of NCWR’s population health team is to identify rural and underserved groups who may benefit from education or social support services and develop programs to connect these individuals with the help they need.

In response to a high number of babies being born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, NCWR developed the Oklahoma Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Project to help connect women who are pregnant or of child-bearing age with education and obstetric and gynecologic care.

The Oklahoma NAS Project is funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grant and targets six Oklahoma counties: Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers and Wagoner.

Chetana Musapeta, MPH, program manager for the Oklahoma NAS Project, is partnering with the Family & Children’s Services (FCS) Women’s Justice Team to implement a telehealth program in rural county jails. The program provides iPads to incarcerated women so they can access prenatal and addiction services virtually.

Partnering health clinics, including Oklahoma State University OB/GYN clinics, provide virtual family planning and prenatal services where women can learn about co-occurring prescriptions, education on treatment and potential signs and symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

As soon as women enter a county jail and are determined eligible, NAS Case Manager Jena Moore assists with locating appropriate services. If a woman needs prenatal or addiction recovery services, she can make an appointment right on the iPad with an OSU Medicine OB/GYN clinic or the NCWR Addiction Recovery Clinic.

Recently, program partners from NCWR and FCS gathered at the Okmulgee County Jail to present iPads to the Okmulgee Sherriff’s Department and celebrate the launch of this valuable telehealth program.

We are proud of the work our NCWR population health team is doing to end addiction and support individuals in our rural communities on a path to recovery and long-term health.

Deanne Vick | September 2021