Nursing students work with area hospitals on safe sleeping practices

2011-04-14T14:36:00Z 2011-11-03T03:52:42Z Nursing students work with area hospitals on safe sleeping practicesBy Kathleen Quilligan, (219) 662-5331

There was no other way Mary Puntillo could lay it out except to be blunt.

"We really stink at SUIDs," she told the members of the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition at their April meeting.

Puntillo, an educator and neonatal nurse clinician with The Community Hospital, was telling the coalition about the difference between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, and Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths, or SUIDs, and what students in the Indiana University Northwest nursing program are doing about it.

Crystal Shannon, a visiting lecturer in the school of nursing at IUN, said she approached Puntillo in January at the beginning of the semester to work on a joint venture together. About a year ago, Community Hospital began an initiative to combat SIDS and SUIDs by promoting safe sleeping practices for infants, primarily emphasizing placing babies on their back to sleep, having the babies sleep in a "naked crib," and having the baby sleep alone and not in bed with parents.

Shannon had three senior students in her management class research SIDS and SUIDs and create a curriculum for OB nurses in Lake County about how to educate new mothers on these practices. Sophomore students then presented the curriculum to nurses at Community Healthcare System hospitals, Franciscan Alliance hospitals, and Methodist Hospitals.

Meg Rice, a senior nursing student at IUN and the project's team leader, said the seniors realized that community members wouldn't want to read their 60-page report, and developed a comprehensive brochure, also translated into Spanish, to educate about the safe sleeping practices to not just new moms, but anyone who comes into contact with the infants. The paper was also used to develop a script that the sophomore students used when they visited hospitals.

Rice said it was a little intimidating as nursing students to provide education to veteran nurses, but they discovered through a survey that the nurses were learning from the presentations.

"It's really important to me there was education," Rice said.

Shannon said she hopes to continue the project beyond the end of the semester.

"Our hope is to bring a small presentation to the faculty about how to grow this issue farther," Shannon said.

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