Children born of addiction


POSTED: Monday, March 15, 2010

Funding is in jeopardy for a clinic that has provided prenatal care to 200 pregnant women struggling with addictions and has delivered 82 babies with good results.

A grant that supports the social worker at the Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii Clinic runs out in May, said Renee Schuetter, executive director.

In addition, a three-year $223,000 grant awarded to the clinic last month from the Hawaii Community Foundation for a smoking cessation program would end in July under proposed legislation to divert money from the foundation-administered Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust fund to the state treasury.

The Senate Health and Human Services committees have scheduled a hearing on the measure, House Bill 2887, at 3 p.m. tomorrow in Room 016 at the state Capitol.

“;We could help 150 women to stop smoking for the cost of caring for one low-birth-weight baby,”; Schuetter said.

“;We don't waste any money here, but we're backing up our words with actions,”; she said, even if it means sending a cab to transport a woman to the clinic. “;We're committed to helping them.”;






        Results at the Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii Clinic since April 2007:


» Only 7.3 percent of 82 births were pre-term, compared with the state rate of 12.2 percent for all births and the national rate of 12.8 percent.


» The PATH Clinic's low birth-weight rate is 6.1 percent compared with the state and national rate of 8.1 percent.


» More than 80 percent of women stop using drugs within a few months of going to the PATH for prenatal care.


» More than 95 percent of the women are able to get off drugs and keep their babies.


» Only four babies out of the clinic's total 82 births tested positive for drugs. Two of the four mothers entered the Salvation Army's Women's Way Program after delivery and were able to keep custody of their babies because of the PATH Clinic program.


Source: PATH Clinic




Dr. Tricia Wright, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, founded the clinic in April 2007 at 845 22nd Ave. on the grounds of the Salvation Army Family Treatment Services.

Pregnant women at Oahu Community Correctional Center are among those receiving prenatal care at the Kaimuki clinic. “;We're really happy to make those connections with the women so we can support them when they're out,”; Schuetter said.

The clinic's Smoke Free Program began about a month ago—open to all pregnant women and those with children under age 3.

Wright said research shows smoking might adversely affect a woman's pregnancy and her child “;even more than illegal drug use does.”;

The program provides transportation, child care, a smoking cessation counselor for individual sessions and an eight-week group class, a relapse support group for six months, acupuncture twice a week, yoga classes and other incentives.

The class so far has 13 women. The clinic expects to help more than 180 women stop smoking over three years if funding remains intact, Schuetter said.

The clinic's operation depends on community support and grants, she said.

About 55 percent of women assisted are part-Hawaiian, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs provided $25,000 for a vegetable and Hawaiian healing garden being developed by Poco Compehos. The grant also was used to put a seating area under a mango tree and make a playground.

March of Dimes provided a two-year grant of $10,000 a year to give the women motivational rewards, Schuetter said.

The SWAYNE Family Foundation helps to support family advocate Jacque Tellei, who works with the women on parenting skills.

Tellei played outside with Sally-Lei, who will be 2 in May, while her mother, Sally Tagalo, explained why she returned to the clinic for birth of her fifth child in July.

The 26-year-old Manoa woman, whose four children range from 1 to 7 years old, said she was addicted to alcohol and had a lot of support at the clinic for birth of her fourth child.

“;I come in the morning and stay until the last class at 2,”; said Tagalo, who is taking the childbirth and smoking cessation classes, yoga and acupuncture and “;learning to eat healthy and stay healthy.”; She said she was smoking four packs a day but quit almost two months ago, and “;it's good.”;

For information or to donate to the clinic, call 734-2034 or visit