A Big Issue for Little Patients
At Mercy Health Muskegon, Safe Kids West Michigan is working to solve a big problem for little patients. According to a study recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics, nine out of ten newborns are unsafe when discharged from the hospital and are in situations of serious car safety seat misuse.
In response, Safe Kids West Michigan has established a new child passenger safety program on the Mother/Baby Unit at the Mercy Health Muskegon Birth Center. The goal is to ensure that parents have the knowledge and skills to keep their child safe in the car before they leave the hospital. It is giving parents greater confidence knowing that their child will travel safely — in a car seat that has been fitted correctly and installed properly.
Each week, Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) Melissa Wilder visits the Mother/Baby Unit at the Hackley Campus. She meets with new parents in their hospital rooms and answers any questions they may have about their car seat. Thanks to funding from AAA Michigan, she has a special iPad loaded with parent quizzes, car seat installation videos and manuals. The iPad gives Melissa ready access to information online and the freedom to move from room to room with ease.
“There is much to learn and many things parents don’t realize they don’t know. This is especially true for aftermarket products (untested pillows, padding and toys) that parents add to their seat without understanding the potential dangers of becoming projectiles in the case of a crash,” said Melissa.
The program at Mercy Health is integrated into the clinical care in the Mother/Baby Unit, so much so that RNs Becky Seckler, Erin Losee, Kristi Cooper and Traci Wilks have taken the 32-hour child passenger safety training course. This hospital-based child passenger safety program is one of only a few in the state and it is now available 24/7.
With hundreds of car seats/vehicle combinations, the job can be overwhelming. “We are reaching parents before they take their newborns home from the hospital. We are certain this program will cause misuse rates to drop and parents will be more confident than ever that they are doing all they can to keep their child safe,” said Holly Alway, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Mercy Health Muskegon.