Community Hospital becomes Safe Haven site


TORRINGTON – Community Hospital in Torrington is now an official Safe Haven site for abandoned newborns, meaning staff is able to work with and identify mothers or parents that might be at risk and assist in a solution. In addition to training, Banner Health has invested in a subject matter expert to support and educate both parents and staff, per a press release.

“The Wyoming facilities began training and implementation of the Safe Haven program in fall of 2018,” Banner Safe Baby Haven Program Manager Heather Burner, RN, BSN, told the Telegram. “Torrington completed the onboarding training in April. The training ensures that Banner staff are competent with (Wyoming) Safe Haven laws and have the ability to support a mother/parents in crisis circumstances that may need safe options for their baby.”

All Banner hospital locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming have now completed the comprehensive training conducted by Banner Health officials for the program, the press release states.

Baby Safe Haven laws exist in all states to ensure that relinquished infants are left with capable providers to provide immediate care for their safety and well-being. Because the program is anonymous, parents are protected from potential prosecution as long as the child is delivered to proper authorities unharmed. Safe Haven laws differ across the country, but Wyoming accepts infants up to 14 days old. In addition to health care institutions like Banner Health, fire stations and police departments are also approved Safe Haven providers in Wyoming.

“More than 4,000 infants have been saved by the Safe Haven law (since 1999),” Burner said. “There are still abandonments in our country quite often, and we still have work to do to spread awareness, but the Banner Health family is here to provide safe options in a crisis.” 

In the last 24 months, Burner has assisted in more than 10 Safe Haven cases, which have involved the mother and/or parents choosing to parent the infant with additional resources and family involvement, adoption or Save Haven placement. 

“There are safe alternatives that prevent infant abandonment,” Burner said. “There are tragic instances, and we want to help. We want the community to have faith in their health care team and know when they come to our hospitals, our staff has the training to support them.”

Burner added even a smaller community like Goshen County can benefit from the program.

“Infant abandonment impacts every community small or large – the demographics for women and girls facing frightening or even dangerous situations span from 12- mid 40’s of age,” she explained. “Safe Haven laws provide a safe and anonymous alternative that may otherwise result in injury or even death. When providers are informed they will support these parents, this is how lives are saved. In the last week, two infants have been found in dumpsters, one in (Georgia) and one in (California). Safe Haven laws exist to avoid these tragedies and with increased awareness and support, the end goal is prevention and promotion of safe alternatives. 

Banner has invested in their community in this way through education, training and recognition as a Safe Haven location.”

Safe Haven signage has been posted at public access entrances throughout Community Hospital as well as other Banner Health Safe Haven locations.

For more information about Safe Haven Laws, visit nationalsafehavenalliance.org

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