LRH a Safe Haven for Newborn Babies
Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) is a safe haven for infants under 14 days old, as designated by the State of Iowa’s Safe Haven Act.
The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents, or another person who has the parent’s authorization, to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital without fear of prosecution for abandonment. A parent or another person authorized by the parent to relinquish physical custody of an infant can directly relinquish custody of an infant to a person on duty at the hospital or leave the infant at the hospital and immediately contact the hospital or call 911 to be sure that someone on duty is aware of the location of the infant and the hospital knows an infant has been left there under provisions of the Safe Haven Act. The parent is not required to provide identifying information or cannot be charged with abandonment.
LRH has been a safe haven since the law’s inception in April 2001. LRH Vice President of Administrative Services Jennifer Gustafson said, “To date we have not had any infants abandoned at our facility, but it is comforting to know LRH will take physical custody of an abandoned infant. Hopefully this act will give these infants a chance at a happy, secure life. It is a much better option than a parent leaving a baby in an unsafe location.”
Upon taking physical custody of an infant, LRH will notify the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) as soon as possible. The hospital will also submit the certificate of birth report and keep any information received or recorded in connection with a good faith effort to voluntarily release an infant under the Safe Haven Act confidential. At that point DHS will make the necessary court and legal contacts and assume care, control, and custody of the infant.
Safe Haven signs are located on the windows by the hospital’s east and west entrances. Gustafson said, “We hope anyone contemplating abandoning their infant realizes this and understands they can bring their infant to the hospital without fear of prosecution as long as their infant is younger than 14 days old.”
Anyone interested in more information can read the Safe Haven Act, which is Senate File 355, by visiting www.legis.state.ia.us/GA/79GA/Legislation/index.html.