News release by Franciscan Health:

Franciscan Health Michigan City has been designated as a Gold Infant Safe Sleep Hospital, achieving the highest level of certification by Cribs for Kids.

The hospital announced the achievement on March 1, which is designated as National Baby Sleep Day.

“I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our Family Birth Center team in leading the way to earning Gold Safe Sleep status,” Franciscan Health Michigan City President and CEO Dean Mazzoni said. “They exemplify our commitment to compassionate concern and care for our community in these efforts to provide families with the tools they need to ensure our most vulnerable patients are safe and healthy.”

Franciscan Health Michigan City was previously awarded five-year Silver Level status in 2017.

“Your hospital’s leadership and healthcare team members’ commitment to best practices, education, use of safe sleep products and quality improvement initiatives along with a dedication to community outreach to support safe infant sleep is commendable and should be celebrated,” Devon George, chief program officer of Cribs for Kids, said.

Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), which includes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), is the leading cause of injury death in infancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The rate of sleep-related infant death declined significantly in the 1990s after the AAP recommended babies be placed on their backs to sleep, but rates have since plateaued with SIDS remaining the leading cause of infant mortality.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 3,400 SUID deaths annually in the United States. In 2020, the CDC reports, there were 1,389 infant sleep deaths due to SIDS, about 1,062 sleep-related deaths due to unknown causes and about 905 deaths due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

The issue is particularly pressing in LaPorte County where the infant mortality rate is 11.4%, higher than the state average of 6.6% and more than twice as high as the national average. Indiana ranks ninth in the nation for infant mortality.

“We are so pleased to be elevated to Gold Safe Sleep Designation here at Franciscan Health Michigan City,” said Patricia DeStefano, manager of the Franciscan Health Michigan City Family Birth Center. “We are working very hard to improve the health of our most vulnerable patients, the children in our community.  A Gold designation means we held community events going outside the walls of the hospital.  Our nursing staff is committed to this work with a goal to decrease our infant morbidity/mortality rates.”

Cribs for Kids’ National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification program recognizes hospitals and hospital systems for their commitment to infant safe sleep to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, sudden infant death syndrome and unsafe sleep injuries.

To achieve Gold Level status, hospitals must implement a host of policies including providing training to all staff caring for infants, provide safe sleep education to families, identify families needing safe sleep space and distribute them prior to discharge and participate in community outreach initiatives to educate the community on safe sleep practices.

Franciscan Health Michigan City joins four Franciscan Health hospitals with the Gold Infant Safe Sleep Hospital designation including Franciscan Health Olympia Fields, Franciscan Health Dyer, Franciscan Health Crown Point and Franciscan Health Lafayette East. Franciscan Health Mooresville and Franciscan Health Indianapolis both have Silver Infant Safe Sleep Hospital designations.