Franciscan Health Hammond opened and blessed their new Safe Haven Baby Box on Wednesday. The device allows new mothers to discreetly and anonymously leave their infant in the safe care of the hospital.
Safe Haven partnered with Franciscan Health in April to complete a baby box at their Michigan City Hospital, which was the first hospital-based box in the state. The new Hammond box is located on the outside of the Women’s Specialty Center and Renal Dialysis Center, and is the first installation of a box in Lake County. When someone uses the box, a silent alarm is sounded so that hospital staff can immediately assist the baby.
“So far in Indiana in 2019 alone, we have had six safe surrenders,” said Monica Kelsey, Founder and CEO off Safe Haven Baby Boxes. “I want to thank LaHayne Funeral Home. They contacted me a couple of years ago and said ‘we’re tired of burying babies, how can we help?’, and they donated enough for this baby box behind me. That’s what it takes, a community that’s willing to say enough is enough.”
Kelsey herself was abandoned at a hospital after birth. She founded Safe Haven Baby Boxes as a way of ensuring that more people would have a safe way to make that incredibly difficult choice her own mother made years ago.
“I admire every heroic parent for making such a choice,” said Linda Znachko, founder of He Knows Your Name Ministries. “It’s their final step towards a future family for the baby. I think medical care, a name, a forever family, and a future are waiting in this box.”
Aside from the boxes outside of Franciscan Health Hammond and Michigan City, there are also boxes at the Coolspring Two Fire Department, and Chesterton Fire Department. City of Hammond Chief of Staff, Phil Taillon, was onsite representing Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr..
“I want to commend the Franciscan Alliance for taking on challenges and situations that most of us probably don’t even think about,” Taillon said. “This shows that the mission of Franciscan Alliance is actually mad a reality. On behalf of the city of Hammond and Mayor Tom, thank you to Franciscan Health.”
Danielle Crowder, Prenatal Care Program Coordinator for Franciscan Health Hammond, organizes the hospital’s efforts to care for pregnant mothers and their newborns. She called the boxes a natural extension of their mission.
“It is our goal to see that one more baby, times ten, has the opportunity to celebrate his or her first birthday,” she said. “To ensure one less family does not face the pain and grief of an infant death, our program is available to parenting and pregnant women, as well as their families, without any income restrictions.”