Nurse will work with DSS to assist families with addiction issues

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 February 2019 at 9:14 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Department of Social Services will soon have a registered nurse available to help families with addiction issues, including babies born as addicts.

The county has a received a $50,000 state grant to fund a part-time RN. The nurse will be based out of the Public Health Department but will accompany DSS caseworkers on home visits.

Caseworkers are seeing more families affected by substance abuse, withdrawals issues and babies with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Those babies have mothers who drank alcohol during pregnancy.

“Our caseworkers are finding serious drug issues right before their eyes,” Tom Kuryla, commissioner of the DSS in Orleans County, told county legislators on Wednesday. “Every other day now there’s a baby born in the hospital that is an addict.”

The caseworkers aren’t qualified to assist families with addiction issues, he said. Kuryla estimated about 25 percent of the caseloads involve families with drug issues.

Orleans and other counties have been pressing the state for help with the problem the past five years. Kuryla would like to see a longer funding commitment from the state on the issue. The $50,000 grant is for one year.

The RN will work with families to develop plans to treat the addictions, including for the babies.

The RN also can educate families on other important issues, including immunizations, lead safety and how to fight chronic health issues, said Brendan Bedard, director of community health services for the Public Health Department.

Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, praised DSS and Public Health for working together on the issue.

“What a great tool for Orleans County in our tool belt against the opiate crisis,” she said.

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