The Star-Herald

Hospitals earn national ‘first’ for infant safety

BREWER and PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Northern Light Health recently became the first healthcare system in the country to have all of its birthing hospitals named Gold Safe Sleep Champions by the Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program. 

The certification, which includes Presque Isle’s Northern Light AR Gould Hospital, recognized Northern Light Health for its commitment to keeping infants as safe as possible in their sleep environment and eliminating as many sleep-related deaths as possible.

  Northern Light Health welcomes more than 3,000 babies to Maine each year at its five birthing hospitals, which include AR Gould as well as Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor), Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville, Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth and Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland.

The path to gold level certification began with a comprehensive, systemwide infant safe sleep policy. Other steps to certification included replacing receiving blankets in the hospital with wearable blankets or “sleep sacks,” training the care team on safe sleeping guidelines, developing a plan to educate parents about safe sleep before they leave the hospital, and modeling safe sleep behaviors in the hospital and in the community. Each Northern Light Health birthing hospital also provides cribettes to families in need that do not have the means to provide a safe sleep environment at home.

“Caregiving teams from all five of our birthing hospitals made a commitment to together pursue the highest level of certification in this national program,” said Michelle Hood, president and CEO of Northern Light Health. 

“This achievement represents our dedication to patient safety and is a component of our commitment to providing new parents with resources to create a healthy environment for their new babies. I am proud of our teams for this effort, taking on a national challenge, and demonstrating how we are striving to make healthcare work for each family we serve,” Hood said.

 The National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program was created by national infant safe-sleep organization Cribs for Kids. Based in Pittsburgh, the organization is dedicated to preventing infant sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.

“Modeling safe infant sleep in the hospital and providing education to families has a significant effect on infant mortality,” said Devon George, MSN, RN, director of education and outreach at Cribs for Kids. 

“As the first system in the country to achieve gold-level certification for all of its birthing hospitals, Northern Light Health is taking an active role in reducing preventable infant deaths in communities throughout Maine and setting an example for other healthcare systems to follow,” said George.

Submitted by the Communications Office of Northern Light AR Gould Hospital.

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