GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health unveiled a safe place for mothers struggling with addiction, through the Niswonger Children’s Network “Strong Futures” program.
After dealing with some delays due to COVID-19, the site on Takoma Avenue will open at full capacity on Monday and house about a dozen mothers.
Vice President and CEO of Ballad Health Behavioral Health Services Tammy Albright has been working on the project for months.
“We are very high in our rates of addiction and neonatal abstinence here in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia,” Albright said. “So, really making sure that we have the opportunity to place services in that gap for women who need that is just really a big honor.”
Albright said the center is available not only to serve Greene County mothers but ones all across Northeast Tennessee.
“What we’re looking at is a long-term fix, not just a quick shot,” Senior Director of Strong Futures and Addiction Services for Ballad Health Dr. Michael Bermes said. “This is to change the culture forever in this part of the country.”
Dr. Bermes said mothers can stay up to fifteen months or so and who qualifies can depend.
“You can also be a stepmom,” Dr. Bermes said. “You can be a woman who is currently with child, and we can also take mothers who may not actually have their children because of DCS involvement or other related issues, as long as they haven’t lost complete access to their children.”
“It pulls on my heartstrings because as a mother myself I know how important it is to have good coping skills, good parenting skills,” Albright said. “We want to make sure that our children can have the best life they can.”
In May, the outpatient program became available for mothers to use. In June, Ballad Health opened the living center for a limited number of beds, and on Monday, the remaining mothers will move in.