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Columbus Clinic Aims To Prevent Pregnancy While Addicted Women Recover

Columbus Public Health Dept.

Columbus public health officials say they can save lives by giving women addicted to drugs an easier way to care for their reproductive health care needs. At the CompDrug facility on the city's North Side, about 700 women are getting help from a new clinic that hopes to not just save lives, but improve them.

“It allows the woman to focus on her healing and her recovery and not focus on being pregnant or trying to raise a baby,” says Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.

The reproductive health services will include contraceptive counseling, reproductive life planning, and same-day LARC (Long Acting Reversible Contraception).

As Columbus and state officials continue their fight against infant mortality, there has been an increased effort on helping pregnant women who are addicted to drugs. Roberts says the new clinic goes a step further by trying to help women, who are under treatment for addiction, avoid pregnancy.

“You don’t have to make an appointment,” Roberts says. “You can walk in to get your treatment for your substance abuse disorder and say, 'Hey, you know what, today feels like a good day, I want to know more about my reproductive health choices.'”

The clinic opened this month at 1420 Fields Avenue, but operates just one day a week: every Wednesday between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Roberts says the clinic is a pilot program to improve not only pregnancy outcomes, but also quality of life.  

“It really allows these women in particular to choose to have babies when they’re ready, when their bodies are ready, and when they can hopefully carry a baby to term," Roberts says.

The opioid crisis is fueling its own crisis in Ohio's foster care system. Ohio has more than 15,500 kids in foster care on any given day, a vast number of whom come from parents who struggle with addiction. And that number is only expected to go up.

Roberts says other programs in Franklin County center on helping addicted women who are already pregnant.

“By providing this service to this vulnerable population, these women who are dealing with their addiction and helping them have more control over when they have another baby, or when they have a baby is really a win-win in terms of the opiate epidemic,” Roberts says.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.