Hospitals strive to keep sleeping central Ohio babies safe

October 26, 2015

Safe Sleep: The Columbus Dispatch highlights CelebrateOne Bare Crib is Best Campaign

By Misti Crane

The Columbus Dispatch

Monday, October 26, 2015

Whether it’s a loose blanket, a medical device or a stuffed bunny, it doesn’t belong in a newborn’s crib.

When hospitals in Franklin County took a close look at what was happening inside their own walls during the first half of this year, they discovered that they’re not doing such a grand job of modeling optimal safe-sleep techniques.

Today’s advice calls for babies to sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib free of obstructions that pose a suffocation risk. That message is at the core of work by the city’s CelebrateOne initiative to lower the rate of infant deaths.

Hospitals here have been working to make changes, including teaching parents and other caregivers about safe sleep and the science behind the recommendations.

But when they audited their own behavior from January through June, they discovered that cribs weren’t bare 37 percent of the time.

The results prompted a communitywide hospital initiative to make sure babies are in bare cribs from the time they’re born.

The “Nothing But Baby … Bare Crib is Best” campaign has started at all hospitals in the county to remind doctors, nurses and others of the importance of modeling safe behavior before parents take their babies home.

The hospitals’ safe-sleep checks also revealed some room for improvement in making sure parents hear about safe sleep; audits showed that more than 15 percent had not.

Work is underway to create a video that all moms will see. The video will include safe-sleep education, said Jeff Klingler, president and CEO of the Central Ohio Hospital Council, which collaborates on quality improvement.

When something was found in babies’ cribs at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, it almost always was a bulb syringe, said Jenny Brehm, nursing director of obstetrics and gynecology. Those are used by nurses to clear mucus.

Sometimes, though rarely, there was a loose blanket, she said.

“Nurses always had a reason why they had something. They didn’t have things in there willy-nilly,” Brehm said.

At Ohio State, and at other birthing hospitals, bulb syringes are now being kept outside the basinet, typically in a drawer.

“We’re hoping to get to 100 percent compliance of nothing in the crib with this campaign by the end of December,” Brehm said.

Most of the time when items were found in cribs at Mount Carmel hospitals, it was because a staff member had good intentions, said Mickey Johnson, vice president of women’s health for the Mount Carmel Health System.

Syringes and extra burp cloths were among the things found with babies during audits.

Though nurses might worry less about smothering risks in a hospital setting, where babies get a lot of attention from family members and medical workers, it’s important that they practice safe sleep from the start, Johnson said.

Hospital staff members have to hold themselves accountable for setting a good example and also work closely with families to help them understand the importance of keeping blankets, toys and other items out of the crib, said Sherrie Valentine, women’s health director at OhioHealth’s Dublin Methodist and Grady Memorial hospitals.

Valentine said in addition to setting good examples after birth, the system tries to do a better job educating parents before delivery.

It’s probably unrealistic to think Nationwide Children’s Hospital will reach 100 percent safe-sleep compliance in audits, but doctors and nurses there have been working on improving their efforts since 2012 and are hopeful they can reach 80 percent soon, said Dr. Jamie Macklin.

Some babies there need to sleep in positions other than on their backs because of their illnesses. And the hospital treats older babies, too, who sometimes have their own ideas about how they want to sleep, she said.

“A 7-month-old baby may roll on her stomach,” Macklin said.

Children’s also works a lot with parents and grandparents who want to put blankets or toys with babies “to make it a more homey environment,” Macklin said.

“We really try not to make exceptions for things in the crib.”