Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spotlight on Weld County - Safe Sleep Campaign

Two years ago, Weld County experienced four sleep-related infant deaths in a matter of months. The county coroner, who identified this pattern and unusually high number, brought it to the attention of the Prevention Services Unit at the Weld County Department of Human Services. As the Unit further investigated the deaths, they learned that all four deaths were the result of an unsafe sleep environment in which the baby was sharing a bed with an adult. 

Weld County Safe Sleep Press Conference - 2013
Left to Right: Caroline Gelatt, Kathi Brown, Melanie Cyphers
Given the similar risk factors that were identified in all four cases, the Prevention Services Unit was compelled to take action to prevent other sleep-related infant deaths from occurring in Weld County. The Unit recognized that the death of these children was a community problem and would require a community solution. Thus, they convened local stakeholders, including United Way, Nurse Family Partnership, Lutheran Family Services, University of Northern Colorado, North Colorado Medical Center and Fetal Infant Mortality Review members to create a public awareness campaign.

Weld County Commissioner Proclamation on Safe Sleep - 2014
Heidi (Weld County mother and her baby) and Mike Ward (Weld County Coroner)

The campaign was multi-faceted and reached a broad audience.  Some of the activities of the campaign included:

  • Press conference and press release that was picked up on TV, radio and social media
  • Crib display comparing a safe and unsafe infant sleep environment and public testimonial from two Weld County mothers 
  • Presentations to healthcare professionals and child care workers
  • Toolkits provided to healthcare professionals and child care workers that consisted of a safe sleep checklist, brochure, magnet, press release and online resources 
  • Campaign website with safe sleep educational materials
  • Social media posts and distribution of posters at grocery stores, doctor’s offices, laundromats, and the drivers license office

Weld County is an exemplary case of “taking data to action:”

  1. Analyzing infant death data to identify trends and patterns;
  2. Convening community stakeholders to brainstorm prevention strategies;
  3. Using demographic characteristics and risk and protective factors to define their target audience; and
  4. Leveraging local resources to implement a public health program.

Click this link for more information about Weld County’s Safe Sleep Campaign. 

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