The Wright Center Expanding Healthy MOMS Program

The Wright Center for Community Health received a $62,000 grant from the Wilkes-Barre City Health Department to expand a program that helps moms and their babies build a solid foundation to begin their lives in recovery from opioid use disorder.

The Wright Center’s Healthy Maternal Opiate Medical Support (Healthy MOMS) program will receive funding through a two-year grant. The grant is provided by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Services block grant, which the state allocated to the city’s health department for distribution.

Members of the Michael Steiner American Legion Jessup Post 411 Ladies Auxiliary recently presented a $2,000 check to representatives of The Wright Center for Community Health’s Healthy Maternal Opiate Medical Support (Healthy MOMS) program.

The Healthy MOMS program is a multi-agency effort that The Wright Center co-founded in 2018 to help combat the opioid crisis. It was launched in Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties but has grown to serve women and their families throughout much of Northeast Pennsylvania. The program is modeled after a program of the same name in Ohio and aims to help pregnant women and new mothers achieve and maintain sobriety. To date, it has supported more than 500 mothers and 282 babies, including 137 mothers in Luzerne County.

“When I started working with Healthy MOMS in 2020, we had five moms in Luzerne County. Now, just four years later, we have 38 active moms,” said Marcella Bicksler, the lead program manager for the Healthy MOMS program. “We know there’s a huge need. Our goal is to help 50 Luzerne County mothers this year, and this grant will make that goal achievable.”

To expand the Healthy MOMS program in Luzerne County, The Wright Center will leverage its existing behavioral health services and its state-designated Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence (COE) to provide extensive community outreach, education, prevention efforts, and opioid pregnancy recovery and medication-assisted treatment services. The program provides access to prenatal, perinatal, and postpartum care and access to certified recovery specialists, psychiatrists, board-certified addiction medicine physicians, licensed social workers, and licensed clinical social workers.

“We’re uniquely qualified to lead these initiatives,” said Maria Kolcharno, The Wright Center’s Healthy MOMS program manager and director of addictions services. “Our work helps dismantle the stigma frequently linked to addiction and boosts mothers’ self-esteem during and after pregnancy, aiming to enroll them in recovery support services for two years to prevent relapse.”

Kolcharno said the program’s success can be attributed to The Wright Center’s approach to delivering whole-person primary health services and connecting Healthy MOMS clients with a variety of wraparound services — from help with housing and utility bills to access to food pantries, clothing supply closets, and many other social services — that encourage healthy behaviors for the mothers and babies.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown said he looks forward to seeing the work The Wright Center will do in the future to help build strong families.

“We are pleased to be a community partner with The Wright Center to provide a much-needed service for moms-to-be and their babies,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown. “This program provides a core foundation for all aspects of a healthy mom and baby so they can thrive successfully in our community.” For more information about the Healthy MOMS program, visit