St. Elizabeth Healthcare has recently been recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as a Gold Safe Sleep Hospital for its commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep. This certification is awarded by Cribs for KidsÒ, a national organization committed to baby sleep safety.
We sat down with Stefanie Clarke, Educator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), to learn more about this designation and why it matters for local families considering St. Elizabeth for birthing care.
Earning the Safe Sleep Designation
Achieving this designation was not an overnight process – it took Stefanie and the team over two years to complete the application process.
“There are three different levels of the designation,” explains Stefanie. “We went for Gold and that’s what we achieved.” To accomplish this, the team wrote a new system-wide policy on infant sleep practices and then had the policy approved and implemented across the St. Elizabeth healthcare system. After the new policy was in place for six months, Stefanie began the application process.
“Research has shown that families, caregivers and parents will emulate what they see from the medical team,” explains Stefanie. “That’s why it is important to ensure consistency in our safe sleep practices, so parents-to-be would continue those same practices at home.” The updated infant sleep policy’s formalization helped ensure that every St. Elizabeth staff member was practicing safe infant sleep, every time.
Safe Sleep Designation Requirements
Requirements for achieving the Gold Safe Sleep designation included:
- Educating staff members on the new policy – including learning modules for new hires and annual updates for applicable staff members.
- Promoting culture changes related to the new policy across many areas of the hospital system, including:
- Emergency department
- Labor & delivery
- Social workers
- Providing the evidence-based education that St. Elizabeth supplied to families.
- Providing sleep sacks for families to take home with their newborns.
- Conducting safe sleep audits on families and medical teams to ensure everyone followed the new policy.
- Holding at least two public community outreach events each year.
Why the Safe Sleep Designation Matters
Earning this achievement is especially significant because Kentucky ranks poorly in the numbers for infant deaths. Across the United States, the national average is 38 deaths in every 100,000 babies. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there are 132 deaths per 100,000 babies.
Having achieved this designation demonstrates St. Elizabeth’s commitment to reducing infant deaths through implementing evidence-based best practices across their facilities, as well as providing education for parents and families.
“For us to have the designation, to share this with the community and educate them on what it means, helps people feel safe coming to St. Elizabeth for care,” explains Stefanie. “We want families to know they’re getting the best care on our postpartum and neonatal ICU units and feel confidently prepared to take their babies home.”
Prenatal Care at St. Elizabeth
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consider St. Elizabeth for your prenatal care, labor and delivery. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that all our staff members take infant sleep safety seriously.