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Fremont Health Medical Center

Fremont Health Medical Center’s mission statement is simple.

The organization’s main goal is “to improve the health and wellness of people in the communities (it) serves,” according to information on Fremont Health’s website.

Recently, the medical center received a designation that furthers its mission by ensuring the health and wellness of some of its youngest patients.

Fremont Health earned the “Safe Sleep Champion” designation from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the state organizations initiative to reduce infant deaths in Nebraska.

The initiative comes as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) remains one of the leading causes of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age across the United States, along with a rising number of infant deaths in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska DHHS.

In 2015, 26 babies were listed as Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUID), up from 22 SUID deaths in 2012, and according to the Nebraska DHHS all of these deaths are preventable.

In response to the increase in infant deaths in Nebraska, the Nebraska DHHS worked with the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative to launch the Nebraska Safe Sleep Hospital Campaign.

The campaign provides evidence-based education and training to parents of newborns as well as birthing hospital staff.

“Providing consistent training and education on safe sleep for all hospital personnel caring for children under a year old ensures the same safe sleep message is shared with the parents of more than 26,000 babies born in Nebraska every year,” Dr. Tom Williams, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS, said. “An increase in safe sleep awareness will result in more babies sleeping in safe environments and reaching their first birthday.”

The Nebraska Safe Sleep Hospital Campaign consists of hospitals developing or updating a safe sleep policy, baseline safe sleep education to hospital personnel, along with a hospital education plan and consistent patient-client education.

“Nurses are in a unique position to educate parents and caregivers about risk reduction of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death,” Melissa Heavican, RN, nurse leader at Fremont Health Medical Center, said. “Our goal is to make sure every family knows these recommendations – babies should sleep on their backs, without any toys or soft bedding, and in their own crib.”

Research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development shows that advice from healthcare providers makes a difference in parent and caregiver decisions about sleep position and sleep environment.

“Our labor and delivery nurses are a key resource for new parents, and for those few days they are in the hospital, it’s important we are giving them the tools and education they need to raise a happy, healthy baby,” Melinda Kentfield, Director of Acute Care Nursing and Behavioral Health at Fremont Health Medical Center, said.

Along with providing education, a gift bag for new parents at Fremont Health also includes a HALO SleepSack Swaddle.

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According to information released by Fremont Health, swaddling replaces loose blankets for safer sleep, and is a technique that can help calm fussy or crying babies and even help them sleep longer their first few months of life.

“It’s important that we are not only telling them what they should do at home, but demonstrating those behaviors while they are here at the hospital,” Heavican said. “We really want to do everything we can to ensure our moms and babies get off to the best start.”

With the designation Fremont Health joins over 20 other Nebraska-based hospitals as a “Safe Sleep Champion.” Some of those hospitals include Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point, and Butler County Health Care Center in David City among many others.

Babies are at an increased risk of SIDS and other sleep-related death if they sleep:

  • on their stomachs
  • on soft surfaces, such as an adult mattress, couch, or chair
  • on or under soft or loose bedding, such as thick blankets, quilts, pillows and stuffed animals
  • in a bed with a parent.

For more information about safe sleep, visit



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