Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation at 7.57 deaths per 1,000 live births. In Ross County, that rate is higher at 8.8 deaths per 1,000. Both rates exceed the Healthy People 2020 goal rate of six deaths per 1,000 live births.

As part of Adena Health System’s Safe Sleep Program, physicians and nurses in Adena Regional Medical Center (ARMC) Women & Children’s Department have been using “Sleep Sacks” to swaddle infants, giving them comfort and a safe way to sleep.

“Educating parents on how to provide a safe sleep environment is an important part of helping to reduce the infant mortality rate in Ohio and our region,” says Sarah Fallow, RN, Nurse Manager for ARMC’s Nursery and Pediatrics Unit, in a release. “Sleep Sacks give infants a comforting swaddled feeling without the danger of a traditional blanket that could shift and cover the infant’s face.”

Until now, the Sleep Sacks were hospital property, which were laundered and reused like gowns and sheets. Parents hated to leave without the Sleep Sacks after using them in the hospital. While the device is becoming more readily available at stores and online shops, Adena caregivers recognized that some families may not be able to find them easily or afford them.

To be sure every newborn has a healthy start, the Adena Health Foundation’s Women and Children’s Fund is now providing families with a Sleep Sack to take home when discharged with their newborn. This ensures the parents of babies born at Adena have this important new apparatus to help provide a safe sleep environment for their child.

New parents Lisa and Michael Jaruwannakorn recently welcomed son Noah at Adena, and both see the value of the Sleep Sack, and what it means for their son. “Sleep Sacks are much easier to use [than a blanket] and make everything simpler,” Lisa says. “It is important to us that Noah is comfortable and safe.”