Health Break | Published June 9, 2008 | Written by Nancy Mutch, RN, MSN, emergency department and critical care services

Safe Haven of Pennsylvania

Not ready to be a mom? Afraid to tell someone you are pregnant? Dont know what to do with the baby? We can help.

Mount Nittany Medical Center is part of the Safe Haven Act of Pennsylvania. The Safe Haven Act is part of Act 201 of 2002. Also known as The Newborn Protection Act, the act took effect in February 2003 and states that a parent of a newborn may leave the child in the care of a hospital without being criminally liable providing that the following criteria be met:

  • The parent expresses orally or through conduct that they intend for the hospital to accept the child, and;
  • The newborn is not a victim of child abuse or criminal conduct.

All hospitals in Pennsylvania are Safe Havens. They will accept the baby if the parent is not able to care for the infant. For the purposes of this program, an infant is considered any infant who is less than 28 days.

Mount Nittany Medical Center is prepared to help mothers and these infants to ensure they receive care and service. If someone finds they are unable to care for their infant, they can call the statewide helpline at 1-866-921-7233(SAFE) or bring the infant to Mount Nittany Medical Center. Any hospital employee will accept the infant. They may ask the parent if the child has any allergies, medical conditions and if the child has a first name. If the parent does not want to provide any information, that is the parents choice. The Medical Center staff will not ask the mother to identify herself in any way, but will provide care if requested. Parents can be assured the Medical Center will care for the infant.

And while a mom is pregnant, she is encouraged to seek care for herself and the baby to ensure a safe delivery. For prenatal care, call the Healthy Baby Helpline at 1-800-986-2229 (BABY). They can provide information about medical providers and healthcare coverage. These services are free and confidential.

For more information on the Safe Haven program, go to www.secretsafe.org or call 1-866-921-7233 (SAFE). All calls are confidential.

Nancy Mutch, RN, is the administrative director of the emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

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