Group aims to open one-of-a-kind facility for drug-addicted newborns (Exclusive)

The Miami Valley could soon get the country’s second rehabilitation center for drug-addicted newborns.

A group of women are in the process of applying for nonprofit status for their organization Brigid’s Path, which aims to provide care for newborn babies as they detox from drugs they were exposed to before birth at a fraction of what it costs to stay in hospitals’ intensive care units.

The facility could fill a huge need in the Dayton area, which sees high drug abuse because of its proximity to the interchange of interstates 70 and 75, and could draw attention from all around the country for providing an alternative to costly newborn care.

Co-founders Jill Kingston and Deanna Murphy have assembled a team of volunteers and qualified medical staff who are eager to get the facility up and running.

“The community is really burdened by the cost (of caring for these newborns),” Kingston said. “If our center has 12 babies at all times over the course of the year, we could save taxpayers $1.2 million.”

As soon as the organization receives its 501c3 designation, it has arranged to receive the building at 3601 S. Dixie Highway in Kettering as an anonymous donation. Vic Green, the broker with Vic Green Realty who was working to sell the building and helped negotiate the donation, said the 12,000-square-foot facility has been vacant for about five years.

The building will need significant renovations, including a sprinkler system that could cost more than $50,000. Murphy and Kingston said they are looking for contractors to work on the build out, and so far have been working with volunteers to perform the preliminary inspections.

The organization will need to raise significant funds to cover the operating budget of $1.2 million per year and pay for the renovations.

Murphy said the building could hold up to 40 infants at a time in separate rooms, but she plans to open with 12 patients at first. The goal is to open the facility by February 2015.

“We anticipate opening with 12 just to get our feet wet and prove to the community the need and our success and ability to handle the babies and prove to the moms they will want their babies to come there,” she said.

Murphy said currently Miami Valley Hospital alone has 11 babies who need the care her organization would provide. But Kettering Medical Center and Dayton Children’s also treat many drug-addicted newborns.

Dr. Marc Belcastro, medical director of the NICU at Miami Valley Hospital, has agreed to serve as medical director for the facility, and Lisa Jasin, a nurse practitioner at Dayton Children’s, is working with the group as well to direct its medical staff of more than 20 nurses and patient care technicians.

“Our babies will be medically stable when they come to us,” Murphy said. “It’s just a medical detox, or many babies just do a compassionate detox.”

Some babies need to be held constantly while they detox, which is where the team of volunteers comes in. The facility will have a one-to-one ratio of medical staff to patients, with many additional volunteers.

Kingston said she hopes to be able to receive funding from Medicaid, but since West Virginia is the only state with a facility similar to this in the U.S., and it’s not open yet, the Medicaid system doesn’t know how to handle Brigid’s Path’s claims.

“This will definitely be putting Kettering on the map,” Kingston said. “Other states will be contacting us as soon as we get moving to see our model.”

Story Credit – Olivia Barrow – Dayton Business Journal