Date: 6/12/2006

Community Healthcare System employees and Babies R Us give Halo Project Wings

Area cherubs are tucking in much safer at night, thanks to the efforts of Community Healthcare System employees. Nearly $ 2,500 has been generated to “Help put a Halo on an Angel” and raise SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) awareness.

Community Hospital Nurse Clinician Mary Puntillo, R.N. took action after a volunteer experience at Maria Teresa Tauscher Center in East Chicago left her questioning infant crib accessories.

“The very first time I was there, I noticed that all of the infants had naked cribs…just a pad and a sheet, which is the preferred sleep environment. Then, I discovered that each infant crib had a blanket, something not recommended. I knew that these babies were at high-risk for SIDS and asked why they were not sleeping in recommended sleep sacks,” Puntillo said. “I was told it was a matter of cost.”

Used in the prevention of SIDS, a Halo SleepSack™ is a soft, wearable blanket with a swaddle feature that replaces loose blankets in a crib. The wearable blanket is recommended by First Candle/SIDS Alliance and reduces the risk of re-inhalation of carbon dioxide which has been linked as a possible cause of SIDS.

After returning to the hospital, Puntillo suggested that employees do something to help.

Community Healthcare System hospitals: Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago; and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart organized a drive with donated monies benefiting infants at St. Joseph Carmelite Home, Holy Innocent Center, and Maria Teresa Tauscher Center. Another component of the donation drive was to teach and promote the importance of keeping babies on their backs.

“So many embraced the donation drive and purchased a “halo,” Puntillo said, “Seeing what fellow employees in our system were coming up with in terms of donations; I’m speechless. I am absolutely thrilled beyond words.”

Employees did open their hearts and the response was overwhelming. Proceeds from the Angel drive have purchased enough halos to send more than 200 area infants off to sleep in new sleep sacks — warm, snuggly, and above all, safer from SIDS.

The employees’ efforts were augmented by another generous donation of 36 sleep sacks from Babies ‘R’ Us Merrillville and Lansing stores.