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Medical distress of Mission baby could have been avoided: Angel's Cradle advocate

Last Updated Nov 28, 2018 at 7:26 am PDT

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Following the discovery of a newborn in a dumpster in Mission, a program that allows women to safely abandon a baby says there needs to be more places like it.

Angel’s Cradle is a bassinet outside the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital that provides a safe and anonymous place for a mom to leave her newborn if she feels she can’t care for it. Dr. Geoffrey Cundiff, regional head for obstetrics and gynecology for Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health, is behind the program and thinks if more hospitals offered Angel’s Cradle, the baby found in Mission would have maybe been left in a safe place, instead.

“It was clear that there was a small subset of women who were leaving their baby in the community because they needed to remain anonymous, so that was the goal of the Angel’s Cradle, to address that need and try to get those babies into a safer environment,” Cundiff tells NEWS 1130.

“I took the idea to Providence Health because there were babies being left in the community and babies left in the community often don’t survive because of the elements.”

Cundiff says two newborn babies have been safely and anonymously left with Angel’s Cradle since it opened in 2011. However, apart from one location at St. Paul’s and two in Edmonton, there are no other places Canada-wide where women can drop off babies. He has spoken to other health authorities in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta to expand the program, but so far he has had no luck.

“I wish we could have a safe haven in more areas, so maybe that could have made a difference [in Mission],” he adds.

Thirty seconds after someone drops off a baby, an alarm is activated in the hospital alerting nurses and workers that a baby is in the bassinet. This also allows the person to leave without being identified or arrested. After a health check, the hospital contacts the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which then takes over care of the baby.

More information can be found on the Providence Health website.

with files from John Ackermann