Cribs for Kids has recognized Christiana Care Health System as a nationally certified Gold Safe Sleep Champion, acknowledging a demonstrated commitment to best practices and parent education concerning safe sleep for infants. To date, only seven institutions in the U.S. have earned this designation — the highest level of certification available.
To reach the Gold level, institutions must meet rigorous criteria, including the implementation of a hospital-wide policy supporting safe sleep for infants, the consistent presence of modeling behaviors by nurses and physicians, the use of wearable blankets instead of traditional blankets, a comprehensive education program for parents, and a strong community outreach initiative.
“As the largest health care provider delivering babies in Delaware, we have a responsibility to model behaviors and educate parents about the do’s and don’ts of infant safe sleep,” said Pamela Jimenez, MSN, RN, FNP-BC/PNP-BC, coordinator of the Continuing Care Nursery and a member of the Infant Apnea Team at Christiana Care. “It’s so meaningful to be recognized for our efforts.”
The Centers for Disease Control reports that every year in the U.S., approximately 3,500 infant deaths occur due to accidental suffocation, asphyxia or undetermined causes during sleep. The mission of Cribs for Kids is to prevent these deaths by educating parents and caregivers about the importance of practicing safe sleep and having a safe sleep environment for their babies. One way to encourage a safe sleep environment is by providing portable cribs to families who otherwise cannot afford a safe place for their infants to sleep.
By sharing critical messages with parents who may otherwise be unaware of the dangers, we can help save lives.
Christiana Care has been an official Cribs for Kids partner since 2011, and in April 2015 was named among the first group of institutions to receive Gold certification.
“Christiana Care has been on board with our mission since day one, ensuring that parents are educated at the time of delivery and that every newborn has a safe place to sleep,” said Anne Pedrick, MS, executive director of Delaware’s Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. “The team at Christiana Care has always been at the forefront of our efforts to help reduce infant mortality.”
Jimenez has been the driving force behind Christiana Care’s multi-pronged safe sleep initiative since her arrival in 2007. She and a team of other nurses and social workers are members of the Safe Sleep Committee created by the state commission, which oversees the Delaware chapter of the Cribs for Kids program. Also actively involved in the mission is David A. Paul, M.D., chair of Pediatrics at Christiana Care and chair of the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium.
“Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the third leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S., and the rate in Delaware is higher than the national average, with eight deaths for every 1,000 births,” says Dr. Paul. “Most of these deaths are preventable. By sharing critical messages with parents who may otherwise be unaware of the dangers, we can help save lives.”
Every nurse and physician at Christiana Care who works with infants is fully trained in safe sleep practices and educates families. Informational materials include a crib card with easy-to-follow guidelines and two instructional videos, which are required viewing before discharge. Christiana Care also presents each new mother with a wearable blanket — an easy-to-use sleeping garment for the baby that provides a much safer alternative to blankets in the crib.
Receiving national certification by Cribs for Kids as a Gold Safe Sleep Champion recognizes the dedication and expertise of our team in caring for babies and families.
Through the Cribs for Kids program, families who do not have access to a safe sleeping environment for their newborns are presented with proper cribs. Health care professionals in Christiana Care’s Department of Pediatrics and Emergency Department work closely with social workers to determine this need, and cribs are kept on-site for immediate distribution. Since 2011, Christiana Care has distributed 365 portable cribs to families who qualify.
Jimenez reports that the parents who receive cribs are incredibly grateful. “I recently asked one mom where her baby would be sleeping if she had not received a crib,” said Jimenez. “She answered that she didn’t know — she would still be out trying to find the money to buy one.”
To formalize its long-term efforts, Christiana Care introduced its safe sleep policy in January 2014. The policy is based on national guidelines from the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In addition, Christiana Care partners in community baby showers several times a year — free public events where parents-to-be receive education, support and encouragement. Attendees receive informational materials and a wearable blanket, and are entered into a raffle to win a crib. Representatives from Christiana Care also share safe sleep messages at health fairs and other community events. These activities are among the components involved in achieving Gold certification.
“Receiving national certification by Cribs for Kids as a Gold Safe Sleep Champion recognizes the dedication and expertise of our team in caring for babies and families,” said Sherry A. Monson, MSN, RN, MBA, vice president of Women’s and Children’s Services at Christiana Care. “It speaks to our unwavering commitment to the patients we serve and to our role as partners in health in the community.”