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‘Wrapped in Hope’ project receives public health award

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Hope has come a long way in a year.

The program, which seeks to assist mothers and their babies from the impact of drug addiction, had its first client in May 2016.

The medical professionals involved in the program and others took time to reflect last week during a luncheon at the Lake County Public Health Department. The occasion for the event was an award ceremony. The Wrapped in Hope program has received the Virginia Reber Public Health Award, named in honor of the county’s former public health director who served in the position from 1976-91.

Wrapped in Hope was nominated for the award by Brittany Milton and Laura Clairmont, two employees of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson.

“It’s so nice to see everyone come together for one purpose - to help moms and babies become healthy,” Clairmont said. “Hopefully it will trickle down in the ages to come … I see bigger things coming from this.”

Those involved in the program are “facing headon something that is a huge public health issue,” said Milton, a registered nurse.

“It’s pretty amazing to see what can get done when four healthcare entities come together,” said Dr. Cara Harrop, referring to St. Joseph and St. Luke medical centers, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Tribal Health Department and Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s Polson Health Clinic.

Erin Rumelhart, director of nursing at St. Joseph, called helping Wrapped in Hope “the pinnacle of my career. We refused to take ‘no’ as an answer,” she said, adding that the program’s first client is about ready to transition out of the program.

Women can get help and referrals from the program when they are pregnant. The help continues until their babies turn 1.

Shanley Nicolai and Katie Bateman, who work at St. Luke Medical Center in Ronan, offer mental health and drug addiction counseling to women in the program and refer them to an array of support services including chemical dependency evaluations and group treatment counseling.

Nicolai said Wrapped in Hope serves as a “one-stop shop” for services and medical support.

“We are always there for the patient,” Nicolai said. “Women come to us when they’re vulnerable and want positive change. A lot of times they don’t really know what they need or where to go.

“Katie and I are sort of the first connection where they can get non-judgmental care,” she added. “We start to build a relationship and develop trust and start to identify needs. We want to help them keep their families together and increase prenatal care.” “These women are vulnerable but also very valuable,” Bateman said.

“They’re struggling but also very strong. They need support, not stigmatism.”

“We leave our titles and judgment at the door,” said Dr. Leeanna Muzquiz, who works at the Polson Tribal Health Clinic.

Pregnant women struggling with an addiction or drug use can call Wrapped in Hope’s referral line at 406- 871-7078. P

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