Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another incident of abandoned baby stirs reminder of Utah's Safe Haven Law

Any mother who’s unable to care for her newborn is encouraged to drop off her baby at Utah’s hospital.

Utah Safe Haven Law states that any Utah hospital that’s open 24/7 is designated as a “safe haven” where newborns can be dropped off. The mother remains anonymous and won’t be reported to the police, investigated, or criminally prosecuted. The idea: Moms who are unable to care for their babies can drop off the baby in any Utah hospital — no questions, no police. 

If you talk with someone who wants to drop off a baby, here's what you should do: Take the baby to the emergency department (ED).  The ED's staff are well trained in the state's Safe Haven protocol and prepared to follow up.

Moms, or whoever they've asked to help them, are encouraged to go to a Utah hospital and give their baby to an employee who's wearing hospital identification. All acute-care hospitals in Utah participate in the program.

“We’re not here to pass judgment,” says Melanie Longmore, RN, who manages Labor & Delivery at LDS Hospital. “We’re here to make sure mom and baby are safe. We want everyone to know: If you’re scared or unsure of what to do, there are options available so your baby can have the best chance at life.”

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services assumes legal custody of the child as soon as the division is contacted by the hospital, which should be no more than 24 hours after the baby is dropped off, then places the baby for immediate adoption.

Resources for moms and others who need help:
An anonymous crisis line is available 24/7 at 1-866-458-0058.  Local family support centers often provide emergency, temporary child care or nurseries where families can drop off children 24/7, sometimes for up to 72 hours, so families can take a break, go to medical appointments, or for other reasons. A list of centers available in Salt Lake County is posted at http://utahfamilysupport.org/find-a-center/salt-lake-county.  You may call the Utah Association of Family Support Centers at 801-393-3113 or email utahfamilysupport@gmail.com.

More information about Safe Haven services is available at www.utahsafehaven.org

Intermountain Medical Center article

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