SPRINGFIELD, Mo- This month KOLR 10 news has opened a courageous conversation about the increasing problem of heroin in the Ozarks. Tonight we introduce you to Robin Stoneman, an RN and charge nurse at the NICU in CoxHealth.

“It starts as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, babies while exposed to drugs while in utero at that time immediately lose their source. At that time they start withdrawing, because the drugs are now not in their system and their withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe.”

“They cry.”

“The cry when you hear it, you never forget it. It’s very high pitched, kind of wailing, almost a desperate sounding cry. It’s just one of those things once you hear it, it sticks in your mind.”

“I think our census has changed over time. You know before we would see maybe a couple babies a month or so, but now we almost always have at least one baby in our NICU that’s withdrawing specifically from opioids.”

Heather Lewis: “Do you always wonder what happens after they leave here?”

“Yes, yes. I wish there was some way that we could for us in the NICU have a way to follow up, because there’s so many cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome just nation wide. 27,000 babies in a year is a lot and I think that was two years ago. If you think about it, it’s becoming more and more prevalent and as people are calling it now… An epidemic.”

“I just wish we had a standardized plan of care for these families. I’m ready for the government to step in and help. I think it’s necessary and we’ve got to have those safety nets in place for these families. I know that mothers are crying out for help too.”