DREXEL HILL, Pa. – Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill was recently recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a “Bronze Safe Sleep Hospital” for its commitment to the best practices and education on safe infant sleep. DCMH is one of only 11 hospitals in Pennsylvania and the only hospital in Eastern PA to receive the certification.
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. In addition to being Cribs for Kids® partners, DCMH was recognized for following the safe-sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and providing training programs for parents, staff and the community.
Karen Angiolillo, R.N., B.S.N., RNC-NIC, who works in the DCMH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), says, “We need to show parents what safe sleep practices look like in preparation for when they take their infants home. What we’ve learned through our education efforts is that parents may read information about safe sleep but if they do not actually see these guidelines being practiced they do not practice it themselves.” Angiolillo played a critical role in helping DCMH achieve “Bronze Safe Sleep Hospital” status.
Several years ago, the DCMH NICU implemented an intensive safe-sleep program after realizing that the rate of SIDS throughout the nation remained high despite hospitals’ efforts to implement safe-sleep practices. “Doctors and staff hypothesized that this was because parents were not actually witnessing the appropriate safe sleep practices,” Angiolillo says. Studies show that without proper education, only 30 percent of parents follow safe-sleep guidelines after discharge from a NICU. When these guidelines are discussed and actually shown, this percentage increases to over 80 percent. Angiolillo adds, “The Cribs for Kids® certification proves that every staff member and parent at DCMH receives the education to ensure a firm understanding of the necessary steps to avoid a devastating outcome.”
When Angiolillo first heard about the Cribs for Kids® certification program in November 2015, she and Rose Amato, R.N., B.S.N., MHA, RNC-OB, nurse director of the DCMH Maternal/Child Health Unit, did some research and realized that DCMH already qualified for certification ─ thanks to the NICU staff’s efforts to promote safe sleep for years.
DCMH’s policy establishes parameters for infant positioning, enforces consistent safe-sleep practices by healthcare professionals, and requires parental education. Every new DCMH staff member must undergo safe-sleep training and complete an annual education program to ensure that they are up-to-date with current safe-sleep practices.
Parent education includes information about how to use safe-sleep techniques to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Education is provided at the beginning of the hospital stay and is reinforced with information that airs on the hospital’s Newborn TV Channel. The channel broadcasts programs about safe-sleep practices and SIDS three times a day.
A key part of the NICU’s safe-sleep program is the use of HALO SleepSacks, which began in February 2015. SleepSacks are wearable baby blankets that leave the legs loosely covered and the arms either free or swaddled. The SleepSack is used on NICU babies toward the end of their hospital stay to ensure the safest sleep position possible and demonstrate to parents the importance of placing babies on their backs. Cynthia Dembofsky, M.D., chief of Neonatology for Crozer-Keystone Health System, says, “We use the SleepSacks donated by HALO to model safe sleep practices in the NICU when our infants are developmentally ready prior to discharge. We then send a SleepSack home as a graduation gift along with extensive safe-sleep information for families.” The SleepSacks have the phrase “back is best” embroidered on the front, reminding parents to continue safe-sleep positioning at home.
“Sleep-Related Death (SRD) results in the loss of more than 3,500 infants every year in the U.S.,” says Michael H. Goodstein, M.D., neonatologist and medical director of research at Cribs for Kids®. “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.”
The National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program was created in partnership with leading infant health and safety organizations such as All Baby & Child, the National Center for the Review & Prevention of Child Deaths, Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs, Kids In Danger, Children’s Safety Network, American SIDS Institute, Charlie’s Kids, CJ Foundation for SIDS, and numerous state American Academy of Pediatric chapters and health departments.
Dembofsky, who was an integral part of DCMH’s Cribs for Kids® achievement, reflects on the staff’s commitment: “They are a wonderful group of dedicated people who I’ve worked with for 18 years now. I’m always very impressed by their drive. The Cribs for Kids certification is only one of many initiatives that the nurses started by themselves and brought to me. They are constantly searching for ways to make the experience for babies and families better, and improve safety for babies before and after their stay at DCMH. The entire staff is committed to the best experience and outcome for the families.”
Rochelle Teachey, M.D., chair of the DCMH Pediatrics Department, adds, “The nurses went above and beyond their normal call of duty to pursue the Cribs for Kids certification and further promote safe sleep. This certificate should give parents another level of confidence in DCMH’s ability to provide and promote the safest sleep environment possible.”
For more information on the Cribs for Kids® National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program, visit https://www.cribsforkids.org/safesleephospitalcertification/.
To learn more about Crozer-Keystone Health System’s maternity program, visit crozerkeystone.org/Maternity.
Photo Caption: A DCMH NICU baby wears her “graduation” gift SleepSack
Image Caption: Cribs for Kids bronze seal
Director, Public Relations and Marketing | Delaware County Memorial Hospital & Taylor Hospital