“This program, in accordance with New York State’s infant Abandonment Protection Act, was developed to protect infants under 30 days old who are in danger of being abandoned,” said Marshall.
“There have been unfortunate incidents in Queens recently, thankfully some of these babies have survived, however others haven’t,” she added. “We want to let the community know that there are better, safe alternatives for these infants.”
The announcement comes after two recent cases of child abandonment occurred earlier this year. In May, a mother left her newborn baby girl in a bin at EHC’S Women’s Health Center. The baby ended up dying. In August, another baby girl was found in a shoe box in Long Island City.
In the wake of the occurrences, Marshall, Jaccard and Elmhurst Hospital Center's Executive Director Chris Constantino, felt it was important to alert the public of the Safe Haven Program.
“There are options, ” Marshall said.
As of last Friday, Marshall has requested that all the hospitals in the borough of Queens increase outreach about the Safe Haven Program within their communities.
Elmhurst Hospital has placed signs at all major entrances of the vicinity to let residents know it is a Safe Haven. Parents can also bring their babies to police precincts and firehouses, keeping their names anonymous if they chose to give them up.
According to the New York State AMT Children of Hope, in the past 12 years all 50 states have passed the Safe Haven Legislation. Since then over 2,000 newborns have been saved.
Under the New York State Infant Abandonment Protection Act, a person is not guilty of abandoning a baby as long as the infant is under 30 days old and is left in a safe location away from any physical danger. The baby must be in a place were they can be cared for in an appropriate manner.
A demonstration was given at the conference to show attendees what a mother in crisis can do in order to leave her newborn in a safe environment. And Elmhurst Hospital has created protocols for handling these situations in a manner that is pleasant for both the mother and newborn.
“We try our best to get them to a hospital and give birth, not give birth by themselves in a parking lot," said Jaccard. He said his primary concern was for all infants to be “safe and sound.”