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Hospital, fire officials give opinions on safe haven baby boxes

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Eau Claire officials are weighing in on the possibility of safe haven baby boxes.

Related Story: Safe Haven Baby Boxes could come to Wisconsin

The idea came up after the tragic death of a newborn in Marshfield earlier this month. The infant boy was found in a garbage bag in a vehicle parked outside a hospital. His parents are now facing charges.

Related Story: WI baby dies after being found inside a garbage bag; parents facing charges

The baby boxes are similar to NICU bassinets that could be installed at fire stations, police stations and hospitals. It’s part of the Safe Haven Laws, which allow parents to drop-off a newborn baby, 72-hours-old or younger, anonymously and with no questions asked.

“If the boxes were to be installed in the fire departments, if that decision was made that we would have those, we certainly would support that then and provide the best care that we could to a baby or anybody else that ever needs care from us,” said Deputy Chief Allyn Bertrang with the Eau Claire Fire Department.

A health expert at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Katie Jelinek, said she’s only experienced one case of a newborn dropped off in her 12 years there. She said the baby boxes could help parents feel even more comfortable and increase anonymity, but the boxes could cause safety concerns.

“Potential negative would be that there would have to be lots of safety measures in place to make sure that people knew that there was a baby that has been placed,” Jelinek said.

Once a baby is placed in the box, the box sounds a silent alarm to 911.

Jelinek said if you are looking for options, you can contact the Maternal and Child Health Hotline (1-800-722-2295), or Safe Place for Newborns (1-877-440-2229).


Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt started out as an intern in August 2017, moving to a full-time multi-media journalist and weekend anchor before becoming Daybreak anchor and now our 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor.

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