Dignity Health Memorial Hospital is the first in the county to receive national recognition for its prevention efforts regarding sudden infant death.
The hospital has been recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a Gold Safe Sleep Champion for their adherence to best practices and parent education efforts on infant safe sleep. Memorial is the second in the state to get the certification.
“We’re really excited that we were able to get this level of recognition,” said Emily Hernandez, neonatal intensive care manager for the hospital. “Hopefully it’ll be the first of many to come in Kern County.”
The program was created by Cribs for Kids, an organization focused on preventing infant sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.
While Hernandez said the hospital has always provided education to new parents about ways to keep their infant safe during sleep, there’s been a renewed focus in the last two years to show rather than tell.
Hernandez said staff that have physical interactions with infants have received training on the best practices for putting infants to sleep and how to serve as a model to parents.
Once a baby is delivered, Hernandez said a nurse will put them in a swaddling blanket, remove anything else in their crib and place them on their backs to sleep, which she said is the best position for them to avoid suffocation.
“When parents come to the hospital and see nurses doing something, many of them think ‘this is what I should be doing myself,’” she said. “It’s not just about what parents hear, it’s what they see. We’re trying to show them how it’s supposed to be done.”
Staff members educate parents in person about safe sleep practices. Parents are also required to watch a video about it before they can be sent home, Hernandez said. Before they leave, parents are given a swaddling blanket for home use.