NORTHWEST INDIANA – Hospitals across Northwest Indiana are making a difference in the way parents prepare their babies for safe and secure sleep once home from the hospital. The hospitals of Community Healthcare System, Franciscan Health hospitals and The Methodist Hospitals have been recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program for excellence in education and using best practices for safe infant sleep.
The National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program was created by Cribs for Kids®, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to preventing infant, sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.
“We know that consistent education can have a profound effect on infant mortality and this program is designed to encourage safe sleep education and to recognize those hospitals that are taking an active role in reducing these preventable deaths,” said Michael H. Goodstein, MD, neonatologist and medical director of research at Cribs for Kids.
Working together through the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition (NWIPSC), participating hospitals strive to impart the importance of safe sleep methods to parents while babies are still at their birthing centers.
The need for ongoing education is great. Indiana’s infant mortality rate continues to be one of the highest in the nation, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Indiana ranks 43rd in the nation in infant mortality. Of the 623 Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUIDs) in Indiana in 2016, (the majority of which were due to sudden infant death syndrome or accidental suffocation in bed) 57 occurred in the northwest region. A sizable racial disparity, black infants are 2.3 times more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants in Indiana; 2.2 times more likely in the northwestern region and 3.1 times more likely in the northern region.
“Reducing infant mortality needs to be a top priority for Lake County, the state of Indiana and nationally,” said Lisa Leckrone, chairman of the NWIPSC. “This is one of our most vulnerable populations that depends upon our support. Engaging and educating hospital staff is vital to educating parents and caregivers prior to taking their baby home for the first time. Understanding how to keep their baby in an appropriate and safe sleep environment is essential. Parent, grandparents and caregivers often fail to recognize the danger of suffocation associated with plush stuffed animals/toys, crib bumpers or loose bedding in the baby’s sleep area.”
The NWI Infant Safe Sleep Work Group, which consists of representatives from numerous NWI hospitals, is a subcommittee of the NWIPSC. This group worked together to promote a consistent message of infant safe sleep throughout the hospitals and within the communities. Because of their commitment and dedication, all of the hospitals achieved recognition from Cribs for Kids.
“We are united in safe sleep practices and work together to provide the same education and message to improve the overall maternal and infant health in Northwest Indiana,” Leckrone said.
Hospitals that have attained Gold Safe Sleep Champion status include Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center, Franciscan Health Crown Point, Methodist Northlake and Methodist Southlake. Hospitals that have attained Silver Safe Sleep Champion recognition include Franciscan Health Dyer, Franciscan Health Hammond and Franciscan Health Michigan City.
“The hospitals of the NWIPSC are committed to helping to ensure that babies in the region have the healthiest possible start for a long and healthy life,” said Annette Handy, member of the NWIPSC and clinical director, Indiana Patient Safety Center. “Collaboration to standardize practice and messaging to families is crucial to better inform individuals and communities of the necessary steps for a healthy pregnancy and outcome. These messages include, but are not limited to, the importance of early prenatal care, avoiding the use of tobacco and other substances, birth spacing, breastfeeding and providing a safe sleep environment.”
For more information on safety initiatives of the NWIPSC, visit https://www.ihaconnect.org/patientsafety/Initiatives/Pages/Reducing-Infant-Mortality-.aspx.