HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Lily’s Place in Huntington is celebrating three years of taking care of nearly 200 babies born addicted to drugs.

“I feel like every baby that goes through our program — that is a success story. We have helped them to be as comfortable as they can be through this painful withdrawal process,” said Rhonda Edmunds, nursing director at Lily’s Place.

The facility opened in 2014 to provide short-term medical care to infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and withdrawal from drug exposure.

NAS affects newborns who have been exposed to heroin, opioids and other drugs while in the womb.

In addition to treatment, employees offer support and counseling to families, but Edmunds said they’re hoping to do more in the future.

“We want a holistic approach to caring for the babies. Of course we want to expand our services for the families to help with their recovery or just education for caring for their baby,” Edmunds said.

All babies at Lily’s Place receive individualized care and are allowed to heal in their own rooms using therapeutic handling techniques.

Lily’s Place has admitted 195 babies since its inception. The drug problem, particularly for babies, is evident in Huntington and across West Virginia, Edmunds said.

“I’m not sure if that’s because we actually have more babies that are being born drug affected or we are identifying them better,” she said. “We do have the universal testing at our local hospitals for every mom that is giving birth, so that helps us to identify these babies more readily.”

The first of its kind facility has taught Edmunds and other nurses several lessons about what families are going through, particularly mothers.

“Even though they are often times going through active addiction, they still love their babies. They are just not in a place in their life where they are able to take care of these babies,” she said.

Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) helped found Lily’s Place and continues to support its efforts. Earlier this year, Jenkins introduced the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act to make it easier for similar centers to open across the country by cutting regulatory red tape.

To mark the three year anniversary, Lily’s Place will be hold a birthday celebration at Huntington High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event is free and open to the public.

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