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A three-year, $2.7 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) will facilitate and expand family-based addiction treatment and other services for pregnant and postpartum women with histories of substance use disorders. Wheeler received $337,500 annually for three years and is partnering with DMHAS on a pilot program entitled, “PROUD: Parents Recovering from Opioid Use Disorders.” Wheeler will serve individuals in New Britain, Bristol, and surrounding communities.

In Connecticut, PROUD will serve expectant women and postpartum mothers with a child under the age of one who have active substance use concerns, or a substance use history, including opioid use, or a related disorder. The model will use evidence-based practices, recovery coaching, prenatal health and parenting education, and additional support and linkages to community and social services. Substance use, physical and mental health assessments, and education and referrals also will be provided to participants, their children and other family members, including spouses, who often have substance use disorders. Wheeler’s program will be delivered in the home, through telehealth services, and through Wheeler’s community health centers in New Britain and Bristol. Communities will be engaged through a public health campaign aimed at reducing stigma and increasing knowledge about addiction and treatment options, and health care professionals will receive additional training and educational opportunities to better understand and screen for substance use disorders.

“This program comes at a particularly critical time, as research shows disproportionate racial, social, and economic disparities in our grant communities, compared with other areas of our state,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, commissioner, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “These disparities often result in adverse health effects for pregnant and postpartum women, particularly individuals with substance use disorders, especially opioids, who often face barriers to care and are unable seek out—or engage—the treatment they need.”

“Wheeler has a long history of delivering care in the Greater New Britain and Bristol communities, and we are pleased to expand our family-based addiction treatment to meet the needs of individuals and families through close coordination and collaboration with DMHAS, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, and other organizations and referral pathways in the community,” said Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, president and chief executive officer, Wheeler. “By providing strengths-based care to expectant and new mothers and their families, with an emphasis on peer support, we are providing supports that address health and other disparities and encourage an environment of recovery to help families to thrive in the short and long term.”

PROUD Service Model: Wheeler Serving New Britain, Bristol, and Surrounding Communities

Wheeler’s program will help pregnant and postpartum women to access and retain substance use disorder treatment and recovery services; decrease substance use during prenatal and postpartum periods; and increase parenting skills and attachment. Support and services will be extended to partners and spouses who may be struggling with substance use disorders, as well as to children and youth in the family. This program will employ culturally sensitive, gender- and trauma-informed approaches to care and include substance use treatment and/or relapse prevention group, and individual services; peer recovery support; family strengthening through Circle of Security,® an in-home parenting intervention designed to promote strong parent-infant attachment; and wraparound supports for pregnant and postpartum women and their families. All program participants will have access to myStrength, a highly interactive, individually tailored application used to engage and retain individuals in treatment and sustained recovery.

Services will be delivered in parents’ homes; through telemedicine visits; or in-person at Wheeler’s community health centers in New Britain and Bristol. Connections to primary care, obstetricians, pediatricians, and higher levels of substance use treatment, including intensive outpatient, detox, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) will be offered, as well as linkages to a range of community supports, including early childhood resources and services, to meet individual clients’ needs.

Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Centers in New Britain and Bristol
Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Centers in New Britain and Bristol are federally qualified health centers that offer an array of primary care and behavioral health services, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for addiction, through walk-in, appointments, and telehealth and telemedicine services. Linkages to specialty care and other services also
are offered.

Wheeler’s New Britain and Bristol community health centers—among five Wheeler community health centers—are funded in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other centers are located in Hartford, Plainville, and Waterbury.

Wheeler is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n). Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial health insurance welcome. No patient will be denied health care services due to an individual’s inability to pay for services.

About Wheeler Clinic
Wheeler provides comprehensive solutions that address complex health issues, providing individuals, families and communities with accessible, innovative care that encourages health, recovery, and growth at all stages of life. Our integrated approach to primary and behavioral health, education, and recovery creates measurable results, positive outcomes, and hopeful tomorrows for more than 50,000 individuals across Connecticut each year: