Lily’s Place, a drug rehabilitation facility for new born babies in Huntington, is still trying to open its doors to babies in need in the region.
Since being designated a nonprofit organization last spring Lily’s Place has seen an outpouring of support and donations from the Huntington and surrounding community. The problem for Mary Calhoun Brown, one of the many helping to get the facility off the ground, babies are still nowhere to be found. Brown said it’s been a slow process because they’ve had to make a lot of renovations to the donated building to meet state regulations, things such as adding a sprinkler system and installing an emergency generator.
“It is a little bit frustrating when you put your trust and hope into the hands of other people because I can’t say this is how we’re going to be licensed, I can’t say,” Brown said. “If I could I would and we’d be done and we would have babies by now, but I think we just have to know that things don’t always happen in our timeline.”
Brown use to be a volunteer “cuddler” for drug exposed babies at Cabell Huntington Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. From there she decided something had to be done for babies born addicted to drugs or alcohol. She along with others in the community have collected donations ranging from a building, to diapers in establishing Lily’s Place in Huntington.
The approximately seven thousand-square-foot building will house 17 nurseries. Babies will be transferred there from facilities that have NICU units, so they can then be cared for a little longer than the hospitals can.
Brown said much of the holdup now is in waiting for state officials and the Department of Health and Human Resources to classify the facility. Brown says since it’s a facility like no other in West Virginia, there is confusion on how to deal with Lily’s Place.
That uncertainty has slowed things down as the DHHR tries to figure out how to designate the facility. The ability to receive Medicaid money depends on how Lily’s Place is designated. That money could be crucial in helping Lily’s Place continue to function once the doors are open.
“Funding is going to be an ongoing concern because obviously because if we’re reimbursed for patient care through Medicaid that doesn’t pay for a hole in the roof, it’s going to be a long-term issue with keeping the building up and running, writing grants and subsidizing our income with community events and whatnot,” Brown said.
Brown though isn’t worried about the community stepping up. So far people have come through by donating diapers and supplies and decorating nurseries with their own money. They hope to have a decision from the DHHR in the new few weeks.