CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland is a center for world-class health care, but has an infant mortality rate that rivals some third world countries. Many of these deaths are preventable and that's why local nurses are stepping up.
Fairview Hospital's obstetrics nurses have become part of a statewide effort to help decrease infant mortality. They say starting with an infant's sleep space is crucial.
"We want to make sure that they have a crib at home or a pack and play. That doesn't have bumpers, doesn't have a lot of fluffy stuff. We want that bare naked crib," said Kitty Russ, MSN, RN. MSHA.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, the Buckeye State ranks 45th out of 50 states in infant mortality, meaning nearly seven babies per 1,000 die before they turn one.
City leaders, hospitals and non-profit groups are joining together to fight that statistic, saying the problem should be treated like an emergency.
Healthcare professionals believe that with education, they can bring that rate down. They're starting the conversations before the baby is born and handing out these "safe sleep sacks" to parents.
"We give every patient one to go home with so the infant is warm," said Russ.
The goal is to make sure every baby born has a chance at life.
"I would like to see no infant moralities. Obviously some of them aren't preventable because of genetics but I would like to see all those preventable ones just disappear," said Russ.
Ohio's infant mortality rate actually went down between 2013 and 2014, but it is still above the national level.
Local leaders say if the entire community steps it up, we can prevent many of those deaths.
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