Brigid’s Path- Changing the course for Dayton’s most vulnerable children
In 2014, Jill Kingston and Deanna Murphy saw an increasing need in the Dayton area to help the innocent victims of the growing heroin and prescription drug epidemic – newborn babies. The two women began Brigid’s Path, named after Saint Brigid, the patron saint of newborns, with a mission to help babies going through withdrawal from their mother’s substance abuse. Here, Deanna discusses the work of Brigid’s Path and how she and Jill are impacting the lives of local families.
How did the idea for Brigid’s Path come about?
Brigid’s Path began as an idea that there must be a better way to care for the growing number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in the Miami Valley. When Jill and her husband began fostering newborns two years ago, they received no support or training to care for the serious needs of babies with NAS. All of the babies they took into their home were exposed to opiates in utero and suffered withdrawal symptoms in their first weeks. Jill and I would sit, hour after hour, holding the babies as we talked about better ways to help. As the daughter of two addicts, I understand the grip addiction has on families and the need for non-judgmental support for families who seek help for themselves and their infants. After a year of research and discernment, we started Brigid’s Path in July of 2014.
Why did you feel the Dayton area needed this organization?
Heroin use has increased steadily in the Dayton area in recent years, and it is no longer only an inner city issue. Dayton Law enforcement officials in the Miami Valley have been referring to Dayton as the heroin hub of Ohio in news reports since 2010 because of its convenient I-70 and I-75 location and its relatively low cost. In addition to helping the babies recover from their drug exposure, the support for their families and linkage to community services is just as crucial. We are committed to helping families find or maintain healthy lifestyles; this means equipping them with the necessary tools to successfully manage recovery, effectively parent their children, and productively interact in the community.
On your website, you say, “drugs do not discriminate.” What do you mean by that?
Opiate addiction recognizes no boundaries. It is an equal-opportunity destroyer. It does not care about your gender, race, salary, zip code, tax bracket, social media following, job title or family name. Opiate addiction has one job: take control of your life and become your only priority. It often starts with an automobile accident, sports injury or surgical procedure after which a doctor prescribes pain medication; the prescription runs out but the chemical need for opiate does not. Because of the low-cost option that heroin offers over expensive prescription medication, many turn to using heroin to fulfill the chemical dependency. This is the reason that non-judgmental support for mothers and families is essential at Brigid’s Path.
Once families are referred to you, how is a treatment plan determined?
The treatment for babies with NAS involves compassionate weaning using prescription medication and non-pharmacologic interventions such as a low-stimulation environment, swaddling, kangaroo care, constant holding, frequent feedings and involving mothers when appropriate. Just as an adult’s treatment plan is a unique journey, each of our babies will experience a unique journey to recovery from his/her prenatal drug exposure. The design and renovation of the donated facility reflects the recommendations of the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative based on the findings of the Ohio Children’s Hospitals’ Research Consortium.
How can the Dayton community help sustain and grow Brigid’s Path?
A community crisis deserves a community response. There are several ways that the community can assist Brigid’s Path. We are currently raising the capital to complete the renovation of our 12,000-square-foot facility. We have reached 65% of our goal and need the community’s help to cross the finish line. Sponsorships for nursery, education, meeting and collaboration spaces still exist. Private donors, corporate donors, churches, civic groups and other interested organizations have helped us get to this point and we would welcome the chance to discuss partnership opportunities. Additionally, we are collecting new and gently used sleepers and onesies (sizes preemie through 6 months), sizes Preemie, Newborn, and 1 diapers, as well as Soothie brand pacifiers. Lastly, the Dayton community can help us increase awareness about our mission by telling their friends and family about Brigid’s Path, sharing our Facebook page with their friends, and joining us at fundraising events to meet the team and help spread the word.
For more information on Brigid’s Path and to see how you can help, please visit www.brigidspath.org.