LAFAYETTE, Indiana - Today, Franciscan Health held a blessing and dedication for a Safe Haven Baby Box at its Lafayette East campus. The device allows mothers in crisis to safely and anonymously surrender their infant to hospital staff.
"We're excited to have a Safe Haven Baby Box at Franciscan Health Lafayette East. This device is the first of its kind in Lafayette and we believe it is directly in line with the core values of our organization: respect for life," said Franciscan Health Western Indiana President & CEO, Terry Wilson.
The Safe Haven Baby Box will be available to new mothers who wish to utilize Indiana's Safe Haven Law, which enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution. The use of the Safe Haven Baby Box is a last resort for women in crisis.
The baby box at Franciscan Health Lafayette East, located at 1701 South Creasy Lane, is discreetly located outside the Center for Women & Children on St. Francis Way. The box is in a heated and air-conditioned room with its own ventilation. When the box is used, a silent alarm will sound in the Center for Women & Children so that staff can immediately tend to the baby.
The installation of the Safe Haven Baby Box is made possible by generous donations from numerous community members. "We want to give special thanks to the local individuals and businesses who, through their compassion and support, have provided the resources to purchase and install the Safe Haven Baby Box here at Franciscan Health Lafayette East," commented Sandy Howarth, executive director of the Franciscan Health Foundation in Western Indiana.
"This allows for any mother in this community, 100 percent anonymity. There is no shame. There is no blaming," said Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc. This Safe Haven Baby Box will be the 33rd baby box in the country and the 27th in the state of Indiana.
Kelsey's creation of her organization was inspired by her own experience. Her biological mother became pregnant after a rape and, after her birth, abandoned her at a hospital. She was adopted and says today; her parents are her biggest supporters. "I can tell you every child is wanted by someone," she said.
Kelsey has worked to educate others on the Safe Haven Law and introduce use of the baby boxes. So far, she's brought the boxes to four states - Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arkansas - and she has the goal of making the baby boxes legal in all 50 states by the year 2025. She said that her organization is working to spread the word to the public about the baby boxes through a billboard campaign and social media.
For more information about Safe Haven Baby Box locations or to speak to a licensed counselor, call the National Safe Haven hotline at 866-99BABY1 (866-992-2291).