PHILADELPHIA - Penn Medicine’s Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH) and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) have received a three-year, $1.35 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to design an innovative and replicable program for promoting and evaluating safe sleep practices for newborns. The Philadelphia Safe Sleep Awareness for Every Well Newborn (S.A.F.E.) Program will be rolled out to hospitals, ambulatory care settings, communities, and homes and addresses the population-specific problem through nurse, parent and community education, development and dissemination of practice and education resources, and a community partnership with the Maternity Care Coalition (MCC).

“In Philadelphia, 45 healthy babies die unexpectedly every year – a rate that is significantly higher than in other major cities. Research shows these tragic deaths can be prevented by following safe sleep guidelines,” said Marilyn Stringer, PhD, WHCNP, FAAN, a professor of Women's Health Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the principal investigator for the program. “By promoting safe sleep, and educating health care providers, parents and community members on Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) risk reduction strategies, we can help keep babies safe.”

“As a physician and public health leader, I am excited about using research-based strategies to more successfully educate and model safe sleep practices. I look forward to the implementation and expansion of the S.A.F.E. Program to achieve measurable results in reducing SUID,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Loren Robinson, MD, MSHP, FAAP.

The specific aims for the S.A.F.E. Program are to:

  • Develop a Safe Sleep Model Program for the hospital environment
  • Recruit ten additional hospitals with mother/baby units to participate in the Philadelphia S.A.F.E. Program
  • Facilitate and support the implementation of a comprehensive Safe Sleep Model Program at the identified hospitals.
  • Increase population awareness of safe sleep practices, address emerging uses of products or behaviors that do not conform to safe sleep practices, and target diverse ethnic populations.

Development of the S.A.F.E. program comes on the heels of HUP’s own program developed last year when nurses in the Intensive Care Nursery realized there was no local program aimed at improving best practices and education. That program was developed using practice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises that infants sleep alone, on their back, and on a firm, flat surface with nothing else in the crib.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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