First Lady Chirlane McCray and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz Announce 1,000 New Portable "Katz's Cradles" for Queens Families as Part of the City's Safe Sleep Campaign

Katz's Cradles is an expansion of the City's commitment to reduce sleep-related injuries among infants

July 20, 2017 — First Lady Chirlane McCray and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were joined today at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens by Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett and ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell to announce the donation of 1,000 new Pack ‘N Play portable cribs, or “Katz’s Cradles,” to provide more Queens families with a safe sleep surface for their infants. This is an expansion of the City’s ongoing campaign and the Borough President’s ongoing commitment to reduce sleep-related injuries among infants — a leading cause of infant death in New York City.

"Parents have many additional worries and stress when it comes to newborns, but the safety of their sleeping child should not be one of them" said First Lady Chirlane McCray, co-chair of the NYC Children's Cabinet. "By distributing these Pack 'n Plays to families that need them, we are making sure that more of our littlest and most vulnerable New Yorkers are tucked in safely."

“Babies don't come with instruction manuals,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “The last thing any New York parent should have to worry about is a safe sleeping space for their newborn. It’s the 21st century, yet too many infants are still in danger due to sleep-related injuries. Indeed, it takes a village. It is imperative that we as a city elevate this educational effort as a priority, in robust partnership with healthcare providers and professionals, combined with the full resources and commitment of the entire City of New York. Queens is the Borough of Families, and we are honored to partner with the First Lady to launch ‘Katz’s Cradles’, the first expansion of the citywide Safe Sleep Initiative to non-public NYC hospitals.”

The free Pack ‘N Play portable cribs provide a safe sleep surface and can be used until a child weighs 30 pounds, which is the average weight of a one year old. They also come with a Safe Sleep Kit, which contains, fitted sheets, a sleep sack and safe sleep educational materials. The City currently provides safe sleep education and makes cribs available for parents in need all 11 public hospitals including NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens and NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, the Health Department’s Newborn Home Visiting Program, Nurse Family Partnership, Health Action Centers’ Family Wellness Suites, Healthy Start Brooklyn, and across the Department of Homeless Services system.

To further support families in Queens, the expansion announced today will make “Katz’s Cradles” soon available at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Downtown Flushing, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens in Jamaica, with plans to reach more Queens hospitals in the near future. The expansion will also focus on enhancing outreach efforts to families in shelters and shelter operators to encourage families to utilize this additional resource. “Katz’s Cradles” will be distributed by non-profit Public Health Solutions, a long-time Health Department partner that offers maternal and infant healthcare to families in Queens.

In New York City, sleep-related injuries remained one of the leading causes of death among infants, with 40 deaths in 2014 and 48 deaths in 2015 at a combined rate of 36.1 per 100,000 live births for 2014&ndash2015.

Under the de Blasio Administration, the Health Department and the Administration of Children Services have worked together to promote safe sleep practices. In May, the agencies announced the new campaign — in English, Spanish, Chinese, French and Haitian Creole — with the message “Put them to bed as if their life depends on it. Because it does” and highlighting the reasons why safe sleep recommendations can save lives. The agencies also announced that they had trained over 12,300 frontline welfare staff, city workers, parents and other caregivers in safe sleep practices since January, 2016. In communities with the highest rates of sleep-related infant deaths, the ACS Safe Sleep team has also trained over 5,300 fatherhood groups, faith-based organizations, expectant teens, health care professionals, formerly-incarcerated mothers, public housing residents and homeless families. The agency’s over 2,200 frontline child welfare workers are also able to access ACS’ “A Life to Love” educational video through Smartphones distributed throughout the division. Additionally, the Health Department has trained over 7,000 home visitors, City employees, community health workers, parents and infant caregivers in safe sleep practices since January 2016.

Infant sleep-related injury deaths involve the following risk factors:

  • Sleep positioning: Unsafe sleep positioning (placement on the stomach or side) were found in 49 percent of sleep-related infant injury deaths.
  • Bed sharing: Bed sharing with an adult or other child at the time of death was evidenced in 52 percent of injury deaths.
  • Sleep surface: Unsafe sleep surfaces (anything other than a crib, bassinet or playpen) were found in 72 percent of sleep-related infant injury cases.
  • Bedding: Excess/soft bedding or other object in bed was found in 68 percent of sleep-related infant injury deaths.

The NYC Health Department and Administration for Childrens Services are working with hospitals and community-based organizations to assure that all families with newborns have the information and resources they need to provide a safe environment for their babies. To find out more about the Safe Sleep Campaign, call 311 or visit nyc.gov and search “safe sleep.”

“Sleep-related injuries remain one of the leading causes of death among infants in New York City. It is up to all of us to keep our littlest New Yorkers safe while they sleep,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “To do that, we have to make sure parents have the tools and the know-how to protect their babies. I thank the First Lady and Queens Borough President Katz for this new effort to help new moms and families keep their babies safe.”

“An average of one infant dies each week in New York City as a result of unsafe sleep practices. Each death is a terrible tragedy, and entirely preventable,” said ACS Commissioner David Hansell. “‘Katz’s Cradles’ strengthens our Safe Sleep campaign and community engagement efforts by helping to remove one of the barriers for many parents and caretakers to practicing safe sleep and help ensure their babies remain healthy, happy and safe.”

“This is further evidence that New York City is committed to caring for the most vulnerable, including in situations where parents might not recognize that their babies are highly vulnerable. Promoting safe sleep is promoting health,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals.

Lisa David, president and CEO of Public Health Solutions said, “Public Health Solutions has been working for over 30 years to eliminate unsafe sleep conditions through professional and community education and public awareness. Infants’ lives are saved when safe sleep recommendations — including placing babies alone, on their backs, in a crib with a firm mattress — are employed by parents and other caregivers. We are enormously grateful to the Mayor and the Queens Borough President for recognizing this issue and taking action to help families in Queens adopt these best practices to protect their babies.”

Gerard M. Walsh, CEO, St. John's Episcopal Hospital said, “As the only hospital providing emergency care to the Rockaway peninsula, St. John's Episcopal Hospital is happy to partner with Borough President Katz on this very important initiative. Many mothers who leave St. John's after delivery have limited to no access to safe sleep spaces for their newborns. Through this initiative, these mothers, will now have an opportunity to receive education on safe sleeping as well as the baby having its own crib.”

Bruce J. Flanz, Medisys Health Network President and CEO (Jamaica Hospital and Flushing Hospital) stated “Jamaica and Flushing Hospital are proud to be a part of the Safe Sleep Initiative. Our hospitals delivered over 5,500 babies last year and the safety of each baby is a priority for us, even after they go home,” shared MediSys Health Network President and CEO Bruce J. Flanz. He continued, “Our hospitals serve a very diverse population; we are sensitive to their needs and committed to providing resources that improve their overall wellness and health. Teaching families how to make certain their babies have a safe space to sleep not only empowers them but insures the wellbeing of parents and children. We look forward to making a difference and collaborating with NYC DOHMH and Public Health Solutions to further our goals of providing a safe environment for babies in our communities to sleep,” said Mr. Flanz.

“The opportunity to provide participatory, enlightening, and potentially lifesaving information to mothers, mothers-to-be, dads, and other care takers in our WIC programs, OB-GYN, and Pediatric clinics, is pure joy," states Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, CEO of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Heath Center. "We love seeing baby’s with ‘This side up!’ on their chests.”

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