Sarasota County clinics team up to support expecting mothers with opioid addictions


SARASOTA-In 2013, more than 27,000 babies in the United States were born dependent on drugs. Since then, those numbers have grown.

Opioid addiction is a growing issue on the Suncoast and it is indirectly passing onto a new generation.

“We have more patients during this opioid epidemic and then we have more of those patients who are pregnant,” said Dr. Washington Hill of Florida Department of Health: Sarasota County.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital, First Step, Sarasota Metro Treatment Center, and more create Addiction Support and Pregnancy (ASAP).

A weekly meeting at Sarasota Memorial Hospital supporting expecting mothers case-by-case.

“It was my desire to bring together all people, agencies, organizations, who touch the addicted, pregnant patient,” Dr. Hill said.

Providing counseling through Healthy Start and treatment through Operation PAR.

“We end up replacing that Oxycontin with Methadone and so it’s a slow acting drug that they know exactly what they’re getting and we have nurses that administer it and it’s supposed to be safe,” said Jon Essenberg, VP of Medication Assisted Services at Operation PAR.

Dr. Hill says since meetings first began in April, he’s seen an increase in the amount of attendees. But he doesn’t know if it’s because more are seeking recovery or more are becoming addicted.

From 15 attendees to a packed room.

“You have specialists in a bunch of different areas where I might not know a whole lot of information that Dr. Hill knows and Dr. Hill might not know a whole lot of information that I know,” Essenberg said.

“The mothers tell me, they’re happy that someone in the community is helping them,” Dr. Hill said.


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Jennifer Kveglis
Jennifer joined SNN in July of 2017. Born and raised in Mount Olive, New Jersey, she found her love for media as a lead anchor for her high school’s morning television program. She graduated from Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana and extended her studies at the University of Tampa where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts. In college she interned for FOX 13 and City of Tampa Television. Her future plans are to utilize her film-making skills to provide a unique rendition of storytelling. Her love for the sunshine, beach and local area made it an easy decision to stay in SWFL after graduation. In her free time, Jennifer can be found at the gym or exploring vegan restaurants. She loves to travel and expose herself to new environments. She is excited to embrace a brand new city while making introductions with the local community. She owes her successes to her supportive family, friends, and mentors.


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