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Houston Healthcare Participates in Statewide Initiative to Prevent Sleep-Related Infant Deaths


September 27, 2016 -- Every week three infants in Georgia die due to sleep-related causes, many of which are preventable. In May of 2016, First Lady Sandra Deal, the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, and the Georgia Department of Public Health launched a Safe to Sleep initiative in partnership with every birthing hospital in the state to prevent sleep-related infant deaths.

The goal of Georgia’s Safe to Sleep initiative is to educate mothers, fathers, grandparents and caregivers about the importance of putting babies to sleep following the ABCs of Safe Sleep as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The Safe to Sleep initiative has always been important to me because it saves hundreds of lives each year in Georgia. As a parent of four and grandparent of six, I understand how it feels when your children cry out in the night. It’s very tempting to want to place them in your bed, but the risks of bed-sharing are just too great,” said First Lady Sandra Deal. “We must educate parents about creating a safe sleeping environment for their babies. It is vital that babies sleep Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. By promoting these ABCs of safe sleep, we hope to spread awareness and provide the tools necessary to protect babies across the state." 

As part of this initiative, every newborn in Georgia will be given an infant gown with “This Side Up” messaging to reinforce the fact that babies sleep safest on their backs. They will also receive a Safe to Sleep book reminding all caregivers about the importance of safe sleep. Travel bassinets will be given to Medicaid and uninsured families that can be used for babies up to 15 pounds or four to six months old. The bassinets can be used when a baby is sleeping away from their crib in another room in the home or when the baby is being cared for outside the home. 

“More than 60 percent of sleep-related infant deaths in 2014 occurred in an adult bed. That is nearly 100 preventable infant deaths,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Babies need a separate sleep space, not in an adult bed or in an arm chair or on a couch, and always on their backs.” 

Through this first of its kind statewide collaboration, all 77 birthing hospitals in Georgia have pledged to model safe sleep behaviors throughout their facilities. This will ensure that parents of newborns, their families and caregivers are educated on and have the resources to create safe sleep environments for their babies before they leave the hospital.

The staff in The Women’s Center, Post-Partum, Nursery, NICU and Pediatrics have gone through the necessary training to be able to share these evidence-based practices with our mothers and their support systems. “Our patients understand that we want what’s best for their baby, as well as the importance of the ABCs of safe sleep,” stated Mindy Hartley, DNP, RN, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer for Houston Healthcare. “We are able to teach them additional information about the action steps needed to help keep their little ones safe.”

The Safe to Sleep initiative is a collaboration led by First Lady Sandra Deal, the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, Georgia Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Hospital Association and the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

“At Houston Healthcare, one of our top priorities is patient safety – and that goes from our youngest of patients to our oldest ones. We are committed to providing a safe environment for all those in our facilities,” said Cary Martin, Chief Executive Officer for Houston Healthcare. “Houston Healthcare is pleased to be a part of this statewide initiative to bring additional awareness and education to our parents and their families.”

Houston Medical Center
1601 Watson Boulevard
Warner Robins, Georgia 31093
Telephone: (478) 922-4281


Wi-Fi Houston Healthcare provides wireless internet accessibility for our patients and visitors throughout the facilities

Perry Hospital
1120 Morningside Drive
Perry, Georgia 31069
Telephone: (478) 987-3600

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