515 Main Street, Olean, New York 14760
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Olean General Hospital


OGH, STHCS work to keep infants safer

Posted on: 04/14/2017

Penny Payne, RN, shows Christina Bliss how to use a sleep sack on her third child, Isabella, before leaving Olean General Hospital.

Losing an infant is a pain no parent wants to think about and Olean General Hospital and Southern Tier Health Care System, Inc. are taking the initiative to help infants sleep safely.

STHCS and OGH started a pilot program as part of the Cribs for Kids® National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program last year. The program strives to increase safe sleep practices for infants through staff and patient education and the use of Halo SleepSacks®. The sleep sacks are a wearable-type blanket that replaces loose blankets in the crib that could loosen and interfere with the baby’s breathing while also keeping the baby warm.

“We started this pilot program last summer and it’s going really well,” said Richard Whitney, RN, obstetrics nurse manager, OGH. Whitney said patient education starts before the baby is even born during childbirth education classes which parents attend so they are familiar with the information before they come to the hospital.

Education starts a conversation with parents about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, and safe sleep practices such as having babies sleep alone on their backs in a crib, with no loose blankets, clothes or stuffed animals, he said. OGH’s OB department started using Halo SleepSacks® instead of traditional blankets which parents can then use at home.

“Studies have shown repeatedly that parents follow the practices they see in hospital maternity wards. By modeling infant safe sleep practice, Olean General Hospital is helping ensure infants born at the hospital have safe sleep environments,” said Donna Kahm, STHCS president and chief executive officer.

The efforts the hospital is taking will help keep babies safer by reducing sleep-related deaths. In the process, OGH will apply to become a Cribs for Kids Gold Certified Safe Sleep Champion. By becoming gold certified, it shows the hospital’s commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by promoting best safe sleep practices and through education on infant sleep safety.

Sleep-related death is the number one killer of infants one to 12 months of age in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 3,700 infants die each year while sleeping or napping. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses the use of sleep sacks as the preferable method to keep babies safe while sleeping.

Upper Allegheny Health System is the parent company of Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital. An integration of two prominent community hospitals in Southwestern New York state and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Upper Allegheny Health System’s goal is the enhancement of each hospital’s mission of care and service to their respective communities with the common goal of improving care, enhancing clinical programs and providing best-in-class service for various health needs.

Southern Tier Health Care System is a rural healthcare network serving Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. Its mission is to improve the health and wellness or our rural communities.

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