Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - 51

"We do fire inspections all of the
time and nobody thinks twice about it,"
Quinn says. "Here we're just doing 'baby
inspections' instead of fire inspections.
Our job is not to judge. Our job is to
be helpful."
"You don't come to parents and say,
'Your house is not safe,'" he adds. "You
tell them, 'We've got some resources
available that can help you set up the
proper sleep environment for your
child.' You get the feeling pretty quickly
if they are interested in help or not."
Melissa Siegel, St. Mary Medical Center
EMS manager, says that many times the
unsafe cribs or other dangerous items in
the home may have been family heirlooms
or gifts bought by well-meaning family
members who were also unaware of the
potential dangers. Babies who sleep in the
same cribs their parents had as infants,
for example, may be at risk because some
older crib models were unsafe.
"Families are trying to be helpful,"
Siegel says. "But it's all about getting this
information out to parents. Instructions
didn't come with the baby at birth. There
is no how-to manual on how to raise a
child. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh
set of eyes to look at the situation and
WEBSITE

Keep Babies Safe
For more information about
infant safety initiatives at
St. Mary Medical Center
Family Birthing Center, visit
www.comhs.org/services/
family-birthing-centers/
st-mary-medical-centerfamily-birthing-center.

see what needs to be improved. And
responders can provide that."
Responders hand out brochures
to parents that detail information on
which items and practices pose dangers
for infants and how to provide a safe
and comfortable sleep experience for
their child.
Each Hobart fire engine has a supply of sleep sacks provided by the
Indiana State Department of Health that
responders can give to parents to keep
sleeping infants warm. Sleep sacks are
designed to provide warm and secure
covers that cannot accidentally fall over
an infant's mouth and nose. They can
be arranged so that the baby's arms are
bundled inside the sack or left outside
for greater freedom of movement as
parent and baby prefer.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
(SIDS) remains a serious health concern
for babies in Lake County and in the
state of Indiana. The rate of SIDS-related
infant deaths in Indiana in 2015 was
eighth in the nation at 7.2 percent. The
rate in Lake County was 7.4 percent
for the same year.
The exact causes of SIDS remain
unknown. What is known is that some
items commonly found in infant sleeping areas-such as old and improperly
designed cribs, pillows and blankets,
baby "bumpers" and other items-can
be hazardous. Unsafe practices, like laying babies to sleep on their stomachs,
also account for a high number of preventable infant deaths each year. The
cure for these unnecessary tragedies
may be parent education.
"Our Family Birthing Centers-
at St. Mary Medical Center,
Community Hospital and
St. Catherine Hospital-teach new
parents the ABCs of safe-sleep

Nurses advise new moms of the ABCs of safe
sleep while their infant is still in the hospital.
Baby should be all Alone, on their Back, in an
empty Crib.

practices-All alone, on their Back, in an
empty Crib," says Janice Ryba, CEO of
St. Mary Medical Center. "This partnership between our EMS program and the
Hobart Fire Department empowers our
local first responders to take that same
information out into the community for
the benefit of children and families."
The Hobart Fire Department is one of
several Northwest Indiana departments
that has adopted the program so far.
Quinn and Siegel emphasize
that providing infants with pillows,
blankets or other items does not
make parents negligent.
"We had bumpers on the bed. We
had blankets," Quinn says of his own
parenting experience. "I was a paramedic, and I was doing this to my own
child. I didn't know."
"If this saves one baby's life, it will be
worth it," Quinn adds. ■

FALL 2017

51


http://www.comhs.org/services/familybirthingcenters/st-mary-medical-center-family-birthing-center

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