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Premier Health Leads with Safe-Sleep Program

DAYTON, OHIO (April 14, 2014) – Premier Health, which includes Miami Valley Hospital and at Miami Valley Hospital South; Good Samaritan Hospital (closed in 2018); Atrium Medical Center; and Upper Valley Medical Center; has adopted a system-wide safe-sleep initiative to help combat the state’s high infant mortality rate. Starting May 1, all Premier Health hospitals will utilize sleep sacks, or wearable blankets, in place of receiving blankets in their birthing centers. Sleep sacks are seen as safer alternatives to traditional blankets in preventing sleep-related deaths, and using them in hospitals will help model a safe sleep environment to parents. Starting this summer, a sleep sack will be given to each mother who delivers at a Premier hospital.

Ohio has one of the country’s highest infant mortality rates, ranking 47th in nation. Premier’s effort was designed by a team of pediatricians, childbirth educators, and other health professionals, in conjunction with the SIDS Network of Ohio. Many factors influence infant mortality, but about 1/3 are sudden unexpected infant deaths, half of which could be prevented. Each year in Ohio, more than 150 infant deaths are sleep-related.

In 2013, Atrium Medical Center introduced a formal safe-sleep, entitled “Protecting Infants Early Reduces Catastrophic Events” or the PIERCE Project.

Sheree Young, RN, CPLC, coordinator of Atrium’s PIERCE Project, says, “Our program teaches safe sleep practices recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and involves pre-natal education, educational materials for parents to take home, and bedside teaching.” Young emphasizes that more than 65 percent of sudden infant deaths occur in locations other than the child’s home, or with caregivers other than a parent. “So it is very important to make sure that everyone who cares for your baby, including grandparents and sitters, knows about safe sleep practices and follows them.”

Last week Premier’s five maternity centers became a partner hospital with the Ohio Hospital Association’s (OHA) Safe Sleep is Good4Baby Campaign to advocate and educate the community regarding the importance of safe sleep practices.

“We are proud to partner with the OHA Safe Sleep is Good4Baby campaign to advocate infant safety through training for everyone who cares for the baby, which includes health care professionals, childcare providers, and families, to ensure they receive consistent, accurate information,” says Jeanne Ponziani, MSA, RN, NE-BC, director of clinical operations at Miami Valley Hospital South. “Our health system delivers approximately 8,000 babies each year, so our hope is to have a significant impact on reducing the infant mortality rate in our service area.”

“Of the five major causes of infant mortality, two (SIDS/SUIDS and accidents) can be prevented through safe sleep practices,” says Marc Belcastro, DO, neonatologist, and medical director of Miami Valley Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “It is very important to provide awareness of this issue, and to teach prevention through patient prenatal education.” Dr. Belcastro added that proper prenatal care is also a factor of infant mortality, and can provide early detection into the other reasons for infant death, such as congenital malformation, prematurity, or other maternal complications.

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