Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether explains the MOMS program at the January Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Wayne Meriwether explains the MOMS program at the January Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.

Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center will soon offer an opioid medical stabilization program for expectant mothers.

At the January Grayson County Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon, TLRMC CEO Wayne Meriwether explained the Maternal Opioid Medical Stabilization (MOMS) program, which will officially begin on March 1.

According to Meriwether, Dr. Sam Buck, OBGYN, wanted to form the program because he sees so many expectant mothers who are addicted to drugs. The program will provide a similar service as the Twin Lakes Medical Stabilization program, which assists individuals suffering from drug and/or alcohol withdrawal symptoms and provides resources for rehabilitation.

Meriwether hopes that this voluntary program will encourage women to accept help and enter rehabilitation when they are addicted to drugs and are pregnant.

"The purpose of this program is to help moms struggling with addiction," he said.

The program is for expectant mothers, and initial assessments will take place in the offices of Lee, Buck and Lee, an obstetrics/gynecology practice located in TLRMC.

Meriwther said that most of the pregnant women suffering from drug addiction will not seek prenatal care until they are very far into their pregnancies.

According to the March of Dimes, a non-profit group that advocates improved health for mothers and babies, about one in 20 women take illegal drugs while they are pregnant, which can cause problems with the pregnancy, such as issues with the placenta, pre-term labor, miscarriages, and stillbirth.

Expectant mothers who abuse drugs such as heroin or opioids must be slowly weaned off of the drugs; otherwise, the fetus may die in utero, the organization states.

Living babies born to drug addicted mothers can also have health problems, such as premature birth; low birth weight; smaller-than-normal head size; heart defects; birth defects; infections including hepatitis C, HIV and Zika; and neonatal abstinence syndrome, which causes the baby to go through withdrawal symptoms.

Babies born to drug addicted mothers can also experience problems later in life including learning and behavioral problems, slower-than-normal growth, and sudden infant death syndrome, according to March of Dimes.

According to Meriwether, this is a physician led solution to a widespread problem because there is a large number of pregnant women on drugs.

Health insurance will cover any costs associated with this program, which will be overseen by Buck, according to Meriwether.