Many people in our community are struggling with opioid use disorder or substance use disorder, and Cambria County has put forth an enormous effort to assist these individuals to be successful in recovery.

As Cambria County evaluated the best pathways to serve these individuals, pregnant and postpartum women were identified as needing additional support. These additional supports included outreach, screening, and intervention.

Conemaugh Health System, Cambria County Drug and Alcohol Program and the Cambria County Drug Coalition began a collaboration to address these women’s unique needs, and help to guide this vulnerable group through the many decisions and requirements of pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

It was through this collaboration that the Maternal Addiction Resource Center (MARC) began.

The MARC team consists of a program coordinator, administrative assistant, certified recovery specialist (CRS) and three patient navigators.

The MARC certified recovery specialist provides support to pregnant and postpartum clients from the perspective and credibility of a peer in long-term recovery. The CRS works with the client to identify personal strengths and barriers to recovery and teach problem-solving skills to address areas of concern.

The patient navigators meet with pregnant and postpartum women, make referrals and complete related care-management activities.

The navigator helps the clients navigate many aspects of their recovery and pregnancy, including ensuring they are referred to and receiving their outpatient treatment, attending doctor appointments, receiving behavioral health counseling and connecting with additional community resources.

Comprehensive care means that MARC treats the individual as a whole, not just one specific concern. The MARC team prides itself with welcoming our moms into the program without judgment.

We all share a great amount of compassion for the moms we serve. To be able to meet with an individual who willingly shares their story, which includes struggle and resilience, is an amazing experience. These stories are detailed with devastating events and astonishing achievements.

These women deserve to have someone working and advocating for them. We listen to their stories and ask about their goals.

We spend time providing education about community resources that can support their goals. It is exciting when a mom makes changes that positively influence their families.

We stay involved with these women during their pregnancies and after delivery.

We recognize that their needs may change, so we are always re-evaluating any additional barriers. The entire MARC team feels honored to be part of this journey.

The MARC team participates in both the health care and drug treatment and recovery sectors of the Cambria County Drug Coalition.

In the health care sector, we are dedicated to improving the system of care for people with substance use disorder, decreasing the number of fatal overdoses, increasing coordination of care for mothers and newborns, providing information on the warm handoff process as well as medication and assisted treatment in the emergency department.

In the drug treatment and recovery sector, we are dedicated to increasing awareness of drug treatment and recovery support services, offering recovery and resilience training. Examples include person first language training in an effort to decrease stigma, facilitating community listening sessions and working to build a community environment that supports recovery, and increasing awareness about disease concept of addiction.

In 2016, when the health care sector of the coalition was being formed, leaders of the coalition along with leaders of Conemaugh Health System were committed to increasing coordination of care for mothers and newborns. 

This goal rose to the top of the priority list as a critical success factor. As a result of the dedication of many contributors, startup funding was secured.

All sectors of the coalition from inception have embraced this goal and want to make improvements for this distinct population. 

As a member of the health care sector, I, along with my team, look forward to continued program enhancements and the long-term positive impact.

The MARC program is a true example of the power of collaboration – when committed, passionate individuals come together, there is no limit to our community’s success.

Maria Bradley joined the Conemaugh family in 2019 as the program coordinator for the Maternal Addiction Resource Center. She received degrees in social work and human resources from St. Francis University.

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