Health officials talk with Daines about opioid, meth abuse

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, sat down with a panel of Kalispell Regional Healthcare officials and employees on Wednesday to discuss the state’s ongoing struggles with drug abuse and how Flathead County is battling what has been, and continues to be, a “major crisis” throughout Montana.

The panel highlighted a troubling increase in the number of babies being born at Kalispell Regional with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a group of conditions caused when a newborn withdraws from certain drugs he or she is exposed to in the womb prior to birth.

The five panelists told Daines that drug abuse — particularly the abuse of opioids and methamphetamine — have at times “stretched the hospital’s resources.” They said the issue is one that extends beyond Kalispell Regional and can only be solved with teamwork among health-care providers, law enforcement, policy-makers and other stakeholders.