Located in Batesville, Ind., Margaret Mary Health recently installed a Safe Haven Baby Box which allows mothers to safely, securely and anonymously surrender their newborn if they’re unable to provide care. The Baby Box, which was unlocked for use on Friday, June 12, has been installed on the exterior wall of the hospital which faces Mitchell Avenue. It was made possible through a grant from the Margaret Mary Health Foundation, thanks to the generosity of the William A. & Martha H. Hillenbrand Foundation.
In 2000, Indiana enacted the Safe Haven Law which allows a mother to give up her unwanted infant under the age of 30 days without fear of arrest or prosecution. The Baby Box automatically locks when a newborn is placed inside and a notification is sent to medical professionals. An MMH team member can quickly secure the surrendered newborn from an interior door.
“A new mother must be in an inconceivably difficult situation to even consider giving up her child,” said MMH President and CEO Tim Putnam. “However, the sad truth is sometimes mothers find themselves in a state of crisis with no way out. Over the years, reports of unsafe infant abandonment have increased across the country. The Baby Box allows a baby to be left safely.”
According to the Safe Haven Baby Boxes website, eight babies have been surrendered inside Baby Boxes since the first was installed in 2016. Nationwide, 76 surrenders have resulted from calls to the Safe Haven Baby Boxes national hotline. The Safe Haven Baby Box organization staffs a 24-hour hotline (866-99BABY1) to give women the opportunity to talk to a trained professional as they consider safely surrendering their baby. This is the 29th Safe Haven Baby Box installed in the United States and the 25th installed in the state of Indiana.
Founder Monica Kelsey started Safe Haven Baby Boxes, Inc. after learning she was abandoned as an infant and after seeing a baby box in operation at a church in South Africa. She has made it her personal mission to educate others on the Safe Haven Law and do whatever it takes to save the lives of innocent babies from being abandoned.
MMH is a not-for-profit, critical access hospital providing both inpatient and outpatient services. Employing approximately 800 team members, the hospital has experienced significant growth through the years, adding oncology and rehab centers, as well as expanding access to primary and minor care in nearby communities. MMH serves a population of more than 65,000 residents in Ripley, Franklin and surrounding counties.
To view a video of the unveiling and blessing of the Baby Box, click here.
Pictured Above: The Safe Haven Baby Box was officially unlocked by Lisa Tuveson, William A. & Martha H. Hillenbrand Foundation Board Member, with assistance from Monica Kelsey, Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder and CEO. This is the 29th Safe Haven Baby Box installed in the United States and the 25th installed in the state of Indiana.