SIH News

 Herrin Hospital staff helps child victims of methamphetamine

Representatives of Herrin Hospital and Southern Illinois Regional Social Services (SIRSS) "Project X" were at Herrin Hospital assembling "Kid's Care Packs" for child victims of methamphetamine abuse on February 3.

The back packs and the clothes, shoes, snacks, hygiene products and toys that go in them were all made possible by donations from individuals and community organizations. Fifty packs were prepared that day and the team plans to prepare another 100.

“I hope it will be a year’s supply,” said Kathy Cox, Herrin Hospital.

The items were collected through Project X, a program created to help children who are innocent victims of parents and/or guardians who are addicted to or abuse methamphetamine.

Tamara Gowin, MSW, Project X liaison, said the backpacks were the result of cooperation between Project X and the Herrin Mission and Values team. She and Cox attended a training where they learned about Kids Care Packs. “We decided to get involved and work together. It’s been great and the community has just been wonderful,” she said.

Donations have been plentiful. “This is more than any of us expected,” commented Lisa Melton, social worker, Herrin Hospital.

Methamphetamine labs are often in the homes of innocent victims, the children. When these children are removed from a methamphetamine-lab home, they not only lose their parents or caretakers, but they are unable to take anything from the home with them including their favorite toys, clothing and pets. When the abusers are arrested or injured, the children, who are often sick from exposure to methamphetamine byproducts, wind up in emergency rooms where their contaminated clothes and possessions must be destroyed. They may wind up without clothes, food or supplies and in the custody of the Department of Child and Family Services. These children need supplies and caring, and Project X is meant to fill that need.

Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that is the #1 drug problem in rural America and the fastest growing drug trend in the nation. It is not only dangerous to the user, but is also dangerous to manufacture, and toxic to the environment. In 2004, Illinois State Police disassembled 959 meth labs, which is an increase of more than double from the 403 in the year 2000.

For more information about Project X or about stopping methamphetamine abuse, call Kathy Cox, Herrin Hospital, (618) 942-2171 ext. 35419 or Tamara M. Gowin, MSW, at (618) 457.6703 ext. 356.

Lisa Melton, social worker (foreground), Herrin Hospital, loads up a backpack. Donations have been strong, “This is more than any of us expected," she said.