Source Newsroom: LifeBridge Health
Newswise — The amazing story of Carlina White reuniting with her biological parents after being kidnapped as an infant has touched the hearts of American parents. This story has prompted discussion about how something like this could have happened and why it took so long – 23 years – to reunite Carlina with her parents.
Since 1989, U.S. hospitals have worked closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to implement measures to prevent infant abduction as well as to ensure an appropriate response in the event that an abduction does occur. Over the last two decades, the number of in-hospital infant abductions has declined due to these preventative efforts.
As hospitals have initiated these numerous strategies to protect newborns, abductors have increasingly targeted homes, shopping centers and other public areas. Between 1983 through 2010, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports an annual average of 9 to 10 documented infant abductions and that 95 percent of these abducted infants were located and safely returned to their parents – usually within a few days to two weeks. While this is good news, nonetheless it is important for hospital staff and parents to work together so that no child is ever abducted.
What can parents do to prevent an infant abduction from occurring? Here are some tips that Sharon M. Rossi, R.N.C., M.S., director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, says every parent needs to know and follow:
In the hospital:
• Do not allow “staff” to handle your baby unless they identify themselves and are visibly wearing a picture hospital ID badge. Be aware that some abductors wear scrubs or lab coats to resemble hospital employees. If you have never seen the person asking to take your baby to the nursery, put your call light on and verify the person’s identity.
• When resting or sleeping, place the baby bassinet next to your bed on the window side so it is away from the doorway.
• If you leave your room for any reason, take your baby with you in his or her bassinet or ask your nurse to place your baby in the nursery.
• When you plan to shower or sleep, discuss supervision of your baby with your nurse.
• Call a nurse at any time if you have questions or feel uncomfortable about the behavior of a staff member.
• Do not include your home address in public birth announcements.
• Do not post information about your infant with pictures on social media walls – only share this with those people you know and trust. Because privacy settings can change with little or no notice, don’t assume that anything you post on social media is private.
• Avoid using outside decorations (wooden storks, balloons, etc.) to announce the arrival of your newborn.
• Verify all home visits with the hospital or home health company or local health department agency before setting up any appointment to be seen in your home.
• Check for visible photo ID before opening your door to any homecare, utility worker or general repair person. If unsure, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. Instead, call the company for verification and to report your concerns.
• Always use an approved car seat that is safely buckled in your shopping cart.
• Never leave your infant unattended or turn your attention away from your infant.
• Do not allow a person you do not know to “keep an eye on your infant.”
• Do not use social media features that tag your location.
• Once your shopping is done, secure your infant in the car, lock the doors and then load your groceries. Keep the keys with you and do not leave your infant in a car that is running.
While these tips may seem like common sense to many parents, it is often the routine precautions that fail or slip when something like an infant abduction occurs. Paying careful heed to these tips can ensure that one of the most precious times in your life as a parent remains happy and safe for you and your infant.
Sinai Hospital is part of LifeBridge Health, one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Northwest Baltimore. LifeBridge Health also includes Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org.
Sharon M. Rossi, R.N.C., M.S., is the Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, an ANCC Magnet Facility.