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Oaklawn first in Michigan to receive new honor for keeping infants safe

October 19, 2015

MARSHALL – Oaklawn and its staff have been recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program as “Gold Safe Sleep Champions” for their commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep.

“You have demonstrated a commitment to community leadership for best practices and education on infant safe sleep,” according to a letter to Oaklawn officials from Judith A. Bannon, executive director and founder of the Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Cribs for Kids program, and Michael H. Goodstein, M.D., the program’s neonatologist and medical director of research

Oaklawn is the first hospital in Michigan to receive the designation, which was achieved through development of a hospital policy, staff training, parent education and a pledge to participate in ongoing audits.

“Babies in your care will be given every opportunity to celebrate their first birthdays,” Bannon and Goodstein wrote.

“There were six sleep-related infant deaths in Calhoun County between 2010 and 2012, all after the babies went home,” said Sara Birch, director of Oaklawn’s Birth Center. “These deaths are preventable, and we are committed to do our part to eliminate these tragedies.

“It is an honor to be recognized for our efforts to keep babies safe,” Birch said. “By becoming certified, we’re demonstrating that we’re committed to being a community leader and are proactively reducing the chance of a sleep-related death.”

Oaklawn developed and maintains a safe-sleep policy and provides training on infant safe sleep to staff who work on hospital units that serve infants and children under the age of one year. Oaklawn also provides infant safe-sleep education to parents of infants prior to discharge, and conducts outreach activities related to infant safe sleep.

Sixteen states and Quebec are represented among the 38 certified hospitals which have achieved the “Gold Champion” status or are working their way toward it.

The certification program was created by Cribs for Kids, an organization dedicated to preventing infant, sleep-related deaths related to accidental suffocation. In addition to being Cribs for Kids partners, Oaklawn was recognized for following safe-sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and providing training programs for parents, staff and the community.

“We know that consistent education can have a profound effect on infant mortality, and this program is designed to encourage safe sleep education and to recognize those hospitals that are taking an active role in reducing these preventable deaths,” Goodstein said.

Every year in the United States, approximately 3,500 infant sleep-related deaths are reported to be related to accidental suffocation, strangulation, or undetermined causes during sleep, according to Cribs for Kids officials.

The organization’s certification program awards recognition to hospitals that demonstrate a commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by promoting best safe-sleep practices and by providing education about infant sleep safety. More information about the program may be found at

The certification program was created in partnership with such leading infant health and safety organizations as All Baby & Child, The National Center for the Review & Prevention of Child Deaths, Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs, Kids In Danger, Children’s Safety Network, American SIDS Institute, Charlie’s Kids, CJ Foundation for SIDS, and numerous state American Academy of Pediatric chapters and health departments.