Blount Memorial Hospital’s continuing effort to serve as a place for mothers to safely surrender newborn babies has received national recognition.
The National Safe Haven Alliance recently presented the hospital with a certificate of recognition for its ongoing commitment to A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of Tennessee’s Safe Haven Law, which permits mothers of newborns to surrender an unharmed child less than 3 days old to hospitals, health departments, or police or fire stations throughout the state.
“We’re very passionate about this,” said Blount Memorial clinical nurse educator Misty Mitchell, whose role it is to make sure all Blount Memorial staff members know what to do if approached by a mother surrendering a child. “We ask no questions. The mother is not to be bombarded. She can drop the baby off, anonymously, with a member of our staff instead of leaving it somewhere else that could put the child at risk,” she said.
A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee started in Blount County in 2001 following an incident the previous year that saw a newborn infant die after being abandoned by her teenage mother.
“I started here 18 years ago,” Mitchell said. “I actually remember us kicking off this campaign, and it always hit home for me. I specifically remember the incident that started this. I had family members who were actually present on the scene. It was just a couple of miles from where I was raised. People listened. They knew it was a problem, and we’re very humbled to receive recognition for our efforts,” she said.
Since the program’s inception, there have been no infants surrendered at Blount Memorial.