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County Executive McCoy, Safe Sleeping Task Force and Health Care Partners Celebrate Safe Sleep Day

September 18, 2013

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today joined members of his Safe Sleeping Task Force and health care providers to announce the accomplishments of the task force since its launch in March as well as to recognize National Baby Safety Month and to proclaim today Safe Sleep Day in Albany County.

The Task Force was formed by the County Executive in March and has developed a wide ranging public education effort to prevent infant deaths due to “unsafe sleeping,” which can occur when an adult shares a bed with an infant and rolls over onto them which can lead to the death of the child. The County Executive’s comprehensive approach utilizes the expertise of community partners and health care providers to prevent infant deaths in the county due to “unsafe sleeping.”

The recommendations put forth by the Task Force will also be used by county’s Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) to develop additional ways to prevent infant deaths in the county due to “unsafe sleeping.”  Since 2009, 12 infant deaths reviewed by the CFRT have been directly attributed to “unsafe sleeping.”  That represented 75 percent of the child fatality cases reviewed by the team.    

“Keeping kids safe and healthy is my priority,” said McCoy. “I am pleased to see that the Task Force has executed an aggressive agenda toward that end. I also want to thank our health care partners for integrating safe sleeping information into their maternity wards. Being informed and getting the word out is paramount. We will continue to work with our partners to make sure we inform parents about the potential risks of co-sleeping with their baby.” 

“County Executive McCoy has been an important partner in developing information that health care providers from Albany Med and throughout our region can use to help new parents keep their babies safe,” said James J. Barba, President and CEO of Albany Medical Center. “On behalf of all the doctors, nurses and staff who care for new parents and babies at Albany Med, I am grateful for the important contributions the Safe Sleeping Task Force has made and will continue to make to protect newborns and young children in our region.”

“Decades of conflicting information about what is best for babies while they are sleeping have led to an unfortunate number of infant deaths, even at the hands of the most experienced child care providers. These tragedies are not inevitable. They are preventable,” said Gladys Carrión, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). “We are honored to partner with local communities to continue to shed the light on unsafe sleep practices and protect the lives of our youngest New Yorkers.”

New York State Department of Health, Deputy Commissioner, Guthrie Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H. said, “The death of an infant is devastating to a family and a tragedy for the entire community. I applaud Albany County’s effort to raise awareness about the importance of establishing a safe sleep environment for infants. This Task Force is an important step toward reducing the incidence of infant sleeping fatalities while promoting the safety and well-being of all of New York's children.”

Kathy Marsch, interim Chief Nursing officer at St. Peter’s Hospital said: “All parents want to keep their baby safe but they may be unaware of the potential dangers in some common practices that could lead to infant suffocation. St. Peter’s includes education regarding the prevention of infant death due to unsafe sleeping in all childbirth preparation classes and in parent discharge information.  All family members, baby sitters, day care staff and anyone caring for infants need to be informed and alert to the risks.”

Since its establishment in March, the Task Force has met regularly to develop a public education effort which includes coordination with area hospitals, the state Office of Children and Family Services, the State Department of Health and maternity/OB-GYN providers in the region.

The Task Force’s mandate was to work to ensure that parents and caregivers know the importance of creating a safe sleeping environment for babies. Since then, the task force has made sure that safe sleeping information has been provided in a variety of places, including in materials provided to new parents, as part of tours and presentations, patient folders and through videos shown at the hospital. The Task Force has also worked to produce a public service advertisement, a poster to be distributed to local businesses and there will be additional efforts to get the word out that babies sleep best alone on their backs in a crib.       

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