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Phoenix nursery helping babies, moms dealing with drug dependency

Clarissa Collins
Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 10:21:22-04

PHOENIX — A Phoenix nursery is on a mission to treat babies born exposed to drugs. Hushabye Nursery also provides resources to moms dealing with drug addiction during and after pregnancy.

Clarissa Collins from Tempe is one of those moms. She had her first daughter when she was 17 and soon after got addicted to heroin.

"Ended up relinquishing my rights to her, DCS was involved, she's now in Louisiana with my cousin," she said.

Collins ended up on probation and on medication-assisted treatment. Two years in, she found out she was pregnant again and started going to Hushabye Nursery support sessions.

Her daughter Cali is almost 2 years old now, and Collins works at the nursery as a Peer Certified Support Specialist.

"It's cool that I was able to start from the beginning and go through the program and get healthy enough and now I'm able to give that back to other moms in return," she said. "I'm there for the emotional support, I remind them that I'm in recovery too, I've been through the Hushabye program, through DCS, I understand all the emotions that you're feeling, and it's completely normal."

Tara Sundem is the executive director of Hushabye Nursery. She said they work to meet moms where they are in the recovery process.

"And hopefully we prepare them for when they come here, they know how to care for their baby and advocate for themselves," said Sundem.

Sundem is a neo-natal nurse practitioner working with babies for more than 25 years. She said Hushabye has treated nearly 100 babies since the facility on 32nd Street and McDowell opened in November 2020.

Babies come from hospitals all over the Valley, and they use dark, quiet rooms to help the babies go through withdrawal. Sundem said their method and one-on-one care has been successful.

"Families are more apt to get into treatment and be successful to keep families unified," she said. "If they're engaged in our prenatal program at delivery, 85 percent of those babies are going home with their families."

Since COVID, overdose cases have skyrocketed. Sundem said they're currently working with 76 pregnant moms.

"Just takes a lot of hands to meet their needs, where in the neonatal intensive care unit, we don't have those hands," she said.

Collins is one of those success stories. She and her fiancé--who is also in recovery--have been doing well and are proud to raise their baby girl.

"It's something that neither one of us thought we'd ever be able to do and the fact that we're here, it's a high in itself," said Rollins. "Being able to watch her grow every day and seeing all those new things that she's done and teaching her everything and being able to look back know like 'I did that this time.'"

Learn more about Hushababy Nursery here.