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59th MDW, Wilford Hall Auxiliary team up to help save infant lives

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carwile
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
With help from the Wilford Hall Auxiliary, the Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing is helping babies born at the San Antonio Military Medical Center sleep safely.

“We’re part of a coalition of six neonatology groups in San Antonio focusing on a safe-to-sleep campaign to reduce sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) due to unsafe sleep environments,” said Maj. Nicholas Carr, staff neonatologist at SAMMC and a member of the 959th Medical Group.

SAMMC is the first Texas hospital to receive “Silver-Certified Sleep Leader” certification from the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program. The Safe To Sleep campaign focuses on modeling a safe sleep environment for newborns in the hospital and on teaching new parents ways to continue these practices at home.

In support of the initiative, the Wilford Hall Auxiliary donated 1,000 Halo SleepSacks to SAMMC’s newborn and neonatal intensive care unit service on March 23. A new SleepSack – a type of wearable blanket – is given to parents of every baby delivered at SAMMC.

SleepSacks provide a sense of comfort, while removing the need for a blanket that could cause suffocation. They also help infants stay on their backs as they sleep. In addition to using a wearable blanket, parents are encouraged to use a firm mattress and remove unneeded objects from cribs, such as toys, bumpers, and siblings, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“We want to create a culture of (safety) for parents when they and their newborns go home,” said Carr. “This gift gives parents something to take home to create a safe sleep environment.”

“Sudden infant death is the number one cause of infant death throughout the nation – from ages 1 month to 1 year - so this is an important message and goal for us,” he added.

The National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program is run by Cribs for Kids, who sets the criteria for hospitals to be designated as Bronze-, Silver- or Gold-Certified Safe Sleep Hospital, Leader or Champion.

With the award as a Silver-Certified Safe Sleep Leader in hand, 59th MDW and SAMMC medical providers now have started working toward a new goal – becoming Gold-Certified Safe Sleep Champions.

“Many Wilford Hall Auxiliary members have had their children (delivered) here,” said Kelly Banachowski, WHA service chair, “so why not give back and support such a great campaign and our military community.”

Learning about your child and how they should sleep is important, Banachowski said. “Having these SleepSacks is great. That peace of mind is worth any amount of money.”