Muskogee Hospital Official Says Babies Are Being Born Addicted To Meth
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - A stunning number of babies born at one Muskogee hospital are addicted to meth, according to a claim made on Facebook by a board member of the East Star Health System.
The board member said he shared the statistic after hospital CEO Tony Young used the figure during a speaking engagement.
Brad Smythe said he has no regrets about posting it publicly because he said there's a great problem in Muskogee and the state.
This is the post that started the conversation:
"27% of all babies born in Muskogee are addicted to methamphetamine. Are you ok with that?"
The response is no, people are not OK with it.
But many are also questioning the number.
It turns out that number is specific to only one month of this year and only at Eastar.
Mike Gilpin, the hospital spokesman, said in April, 85 percent of newborns met the criteria to be tested for drugs. Of that 85 percent, the hospital said more than 20 percent tested positive for some sort of substance and had to be admitted to NICU, opioids being found the most, not meth.
The spokesman said the hospital doesn't have the total number of births for that month readily available.
The most recent numbers from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services are from 2014.
A DHS report states that 375 newborns tested positive for some sort of substance exposure, with marijuana, alcohol, meth and prescription medications as the most prevalent.
Eastar hospital said it's now working to get a 12-month snapshot to find out how big the problem might be in Muskogee.
The spokesman admitted the statistic the CEO has given is a bit misleading, but said one baby born addicted to drugs is too many.
And for that reason, he said he's glad the board member put it out there because it's started a conversation about a real problem that he hopes leads to a solution.
News On 6 requested on-camera interviews with the hospital spokesman, but he declined. He said he hopes to have more firm numbers next week to talk about with her.
A hospital doctor, nurse, spokesman, board of director member and police officer met to talk the issue today.
Muskogee Police officer Lincoln Anderson said the good thing about the meeting is that it suggested there's a need to sit down with child agencies, local hospitals and other community leaders to address the problem. Then they can work together to make a difference.