Shaare Zedek Becomes First Israeli Hospital to Receive Gold-Level Certification Awarded by ATID, the Israeli Foundation for the Study and the Prevention of Sudden Infant Death in an Effort to Prevent Sudden Infant Deaths and Sleep-related Deaths.
While causes for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remain unknown, educating parents can significantly reduce the risk factors.
Every year, thousands of babies around the world die tragically in their sleep with no prior indication of any health problems. Despite substantial research efforts, there is still no known cause for the condition. But specific risk-reduction measures, when taken by parents, have been shown to substantially reduce the chances that a baby will die as a result of SIDS or other sleep-related deaths. According to Israeli government statistics, forty-seven infants died suddenly in 2019. Over the past 13 years that data has been compiled surrounding sudden infant deaths, the number has ranged from 40 to 94 deaths per year.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center was recently certified as a Gold Safe Sleep Champion by the US-based Cribs for Kids organization, becoming the first Israeli hospital to receive this highest level of certification. Shaare Zedek’s Wilf Children’s Hospital sees over 22,000 births annually, the most of any Israeli hospital, and among the highest in the Western world.
The certification was made possible after achieving all the milestones set by cribs for kids through a partnership with the Israeli based ATID organization which similarly works to prevent the incidence of SIDS . Leading the effort on behalf of ATID was Dr. Anat Shatz, chair of ATID and an ear nose and throat specialist who has dedicated much of her professional career to helping parents avoid the tragedy of an infant who dies suddenly.
Prof. Ofer Merin, Director General of Shaare Zedek and a trauma medicine specialist says that SIDS is one of the most devastating events for a parent, “We are deeply grateful that we are able to help bring greater attention to this issue and work to prevent such instances in the future. As a world-leading maternity hospital, we take great pride that Shaare Zedek is accepting this mantle of responsibility.”
Also attending the certification ceremony was Member of the Knesset (MK) Idit Silman, Chair of the Knesset Health Affairs Committee who said, “Shaare Zedek deserves to be congratulated for becoming Israel’s first hospital to gain this important status and we hope that this is a model that can be expanded by Atid to other hospitals throughout the country.”
To receive the certification, Shaare Zedek implemented an educational program developed by Dr. Shatz and ATID whereby all maternity nurses are trained to educate new parents on the measures known to reduce the incidence of SIDS. Dr. Shatz explained that “Every staff member who undergoes this course and then passes along these lessons to parents has the ability to directly save a child’s life.” Over a year ago, as part of the certification process, Shaare Zedek began putting all infants in the hospital to sleep in specially designed “sleep sacks” that can reduce the risks associated with SIDS and sets an important example for parents and other hospitals.
Dr. Shatz said that ATID’s surveys indicate that 82 percent of parents described the hospital staff as the most important resource for learning how to care for a newborn infant. “For that reason, those first 48 hours in the hospital are critical for educating parents on how to reduce the incidence of sudden death and that’s why this hospital-based initiative is so important for the more than 185,000 babies that are born in Israel every year.”
Judith Bannon, Founder and Executive Director of Cribs for Kids, said the initiative with ATID and Shaare Zedek represented the organization’s first international partnership. Ms. Bannon said “we extend our enthusiastic congratulations to Shaare Zedek Medical Center – Wilf Children’s Hospital for attaining our Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program’s highest designation, Gold Safe Sleep Champion. Your hospital has demonstrated a commitment to community leadership for best practices and education on infant safe sleep through the development of a hospital policy, staff training, parent education, implementing a wearable blanket program, providing a safe sleep space to at risk families, and a pledge to participate in ongoing audits and community outreach programs. The work done to date is to be commended. Through this program, Shaare Zedek has demonstrated a commitment to community leadership allowing you to join our mission to protect our babies from sleep-related deaths.”