HCTW news brief: Hospital educates staff on abandoned child law

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 20, 2009

Educators at an Alabama hospital are offering classes to teach their staff about the state’s Safe Haven Law and their policies on newborn abandonment. An emergency room nurse and nurse educator at Athens-Limestone Hospital, in Athens, decided to implement the educational program so staff was properly trained if they had to deal with a parent abandoning their child.

Alabama’s Safe Haven Law states that either parent can bring an infant, younger than 72 hours old, into any licensed hospital with an emergency room and leave the child. All the parent must do is declare that they are giving up the child. If a child has been abandoned, the hospital’s policy is to do a thorough physical check of the baby and then call the police.

There have been no cases of abandonment at the hospital in the past, but the hospital felt that their staff should know what to do if the situation ever arose. The law was enacted in 2000 and the nurse educator who teaches the class believes there have been about 23 children that have entered Alabama’s foster care system this way in the program’s first six years.

The Huntsville Times

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