Pregnant Native American’s Opioid Addiction Services Collaboration

♪ Music plays ♪ The Indian Health Board is a federally qualified health
care center that is Native focused in providing care, culturally appropriate,
culturally sensitive care, to the Native community in Minneapolis. Through my work here I, as the
midwife, provide the majority of the OB care and through that work, realized fairly
quickly in joining this practice that there was a real need for care of women who are
struggling with opioid addiction. And through connecting with Tammy Harvanko, who is the OB high-risk case manager at Hennepin County, and with Dr. Gavin Bart and his team at the
Addiction Medicine Clinic at Hennepin County Medical Center, and with Erika Jensen and the
entire team at Project CHILD, we’ve been able to build a collaboration. Our partnership has just evolved over time by a
group of people that are very passionate about providing the best care and engaging women
in care to have healthy pregnancy outcomes. I think there are a couple of things that
are unique. One, it’s really reaching out to an incredibly high-risk population. So
the American Indian female population is particularly hit by opiate use problems. I think the American
Indian population in the state of Minnesota is about one percent of the overall state
population. In our Addiction Medicine Program, it’s 18 percent of the people that we’re taking care of.
So, it becomes particularly important when we have such a large representation of a
demographic, that we have partnerships with culturally-sensitive programs and that we
have advocacy. When you’re looking at a community that’s a
tribal community and see all the important roles and all the important pieces that play into
a person’s life, it’s important to incorporate that into their treatment and incorporate
that into their healing. I think one of the most unique things about our
partnership is that it happened naturally as we identified a need in our community,
with the Native American community and the rise in opiate dependence in pregnant women,
and really realizing that as providers we need to step forward and really provide as
much help as we could to help women have access to services that were available, educate women on
services, and also educate them on, you know, the risk of using opiates and other
drugs during their pregnancy. I was nervous once I found out I was pregnant
because I knew I was using and I was a little embarrassed to tell Amy that I was using.
But now I know that I shouldn’t be ashamed because I was asking for help. Working with these
programs has made me want to stay sober and make only good choices
and be healthy for my baby. If we give these women the opportunities to be
where they want to in their lives, it not only changes their lives, it saves their lives
a lot of the time. It saves that baby’s life and it really saves families,
because these babies go home with their mother.

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