Closings and delays

Surry County working to reduce number of babies born addicted to opioids

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SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- Cade Wright says many of the babies she cares for at Northern Hospital of Surry County are born addicted to opioids and show signs of withdrawal.

“Uncontrollable crying, they're unable to sleep, shaking, jitteriness, uncontrollable tremors in their bodies," said Wright, director of women’s and newborn services at the hospital. “It's just very sad to watch that."

She says 18 to 20 percent of babies delivered at the hospital have opioid-related addictions.

"To watch the babies go through withdrawal and just know there's not a lot you can do," Wright said.

“It's a big public health concern," said Wendy Smith, women’s health and STD coordinator for Surry County Health and Nutrition Center.

Smith says the women’s clinic is encouraging women addicted to opioids to use long-term birth control.

"It's very important that they don't get pregnant while they're using," she said.

Depending on a patient's income, the clinic offers free intrauterine devices known as IUDs or implants which prevent pregnancy for several years.

"Any method that's long term but reversible," Smith said.

Smith says while they can't stop drug use, they can try to minimize some of its effects.

"We're doing our small part,” she said. “That's all we can really do."

“We can't handle what they're doing when they're out of here, but we can do our part to prevent complications from birth for a baby that's addicted,” Smith said.

The clinic is also offering free hepatitis C screenings.

Surry County's Health and Nutrition Center is also working with local schools and nonprofits to help educate the public on opioid addiction and drug prevention.