Health Notes: Minnesota’s infant safe haven rules expandedMinnesota’s safe haven for newborns has expanded with legislation that went into effect Aug. 1.
By: Compiled by John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota’s safe haven for newborns has expanded with legislation that went into effect Aug. 1.
The Safe Place for Newborns law originally was enacted in 2000 in response to tragedies involving abandoned infants, a news release from the Minnesota Department of Human Services said.
The law allows a mother, or someone acting with her permission, to safely surrender her unharmed infant to a designated safe place. In the original law, the infant had to be surrendered within 72 hours of birth, and the only designated safe places were hospitals. This year, the state Legislature amended that law to extend the safe period to seven days and the safe places to urgent-care facilities during hours of operation or an ambulance dispatched in response to a 911 call.
Personnel at the safe place are not allowed to try to determine the identities of the people involved, nor can they call the police. They must arrange for immediate medical care of the baby and must contact social services for assistance within 24 hours.
Mark Wilhelmson, social services supervisor in the initial intervention unit for South St. Louis County, said the changes might have made a difference in one local case. A woman gave birth in a local hospital and wanted to surrender the baby under the safe haven law. But because her identity was known, the law didn’t allow her to give up the baby without going through normal adoption procedures.
With a seven-day safe period, a woman who gave birth in a hospital would have more time to leave and then give up the child anonymously, Wilhelmson said.
He said he could think of no more than five instances of the safe haven law being used in South St. Louis County, nor could he recall instances of babies being abandoned. But the law offers a safeguard for people who are in desperate straits.
The law was passed “so that people wouldn’t leave children in a Dumpster, for example,” Wilhelmson said. “Let’s offer people a safe place to leave a child rather than somehow disposing of a child.”
After the flood
Like so many people in the Northland, a number of Essentia Health employees were affected by recent flooding. They got help from the Employee Emergency Fund, Essentia spokeswoman Kim Kaiser said.
In existence for about 20 years, the fund is available to help staff members facing emergencies or disasters. It distributed $200,000 to 77 employees working to recover from the flooding, Kaiser said.
At the same time, employees donated $25,000 to the fund, which is matched dollar-for-dollar by the organization.
A test for boomers
Baby boomers should get a one-time test for the hepatitis C virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
One in 30 baby boomers —those born between 1946 and 1964 —has been infected with the virus, and those in that age group are five times more likely than other adult Americans to be infected with it, the CDC said. And most of the 15,000-plus Americans who die of hepatitis C-related illnesses each year are baby boomers.
At the fair
On the subject of “Minnesotans can quit smoking,” Quitplan Services will have a booth at the Minnesota State Fair with information on how to quit smoking and “fun, interactive activities,” a news release says.
Those include “cigarette butt kicking bags” and a lung function test to determine the age of your lungs.
No report on whether any of that will be on a stick.