MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center achieves ‘Certified Safe Sleep’ recognition

MedStar Franklin SquareMedStar Franklin Square Medical Center has become the first hospital in the Baltimore area to be recognized by the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program for its commitment to educating parents on safe sleep practices for infants.

Only two other hospitals in Maryland achieved a designation from the program, which was created by Cribs for Kids, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to preventing infant, sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation. MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center was named a Certified Safe Sleep Hospital.

There were about 3,600 sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) in the United States in 2016. These deaths occur among infants less than one year old, and include suffocation and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), which has an unknown cause.

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“Losing an infant to SUID is a parent’s worst fear,” said Fernando V. Mena, MD, FAAP, chief of neonatology and interim chairman of the department of pediatrics. “In an initiative started in 2005, we have taken many steps to educate parents on how to put their infants down to sleep safely and are grateful to Cribs for Kids for recognizing our efforts.”

To achieve the organization’s bronze level designation, MedStar Franklin Square developed a safe sleep policy, provided staff training on infant safe sleep, and provided infant safe sleep education to the parents of infants prior to discharge.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface in a crib or bassinet. Parents should share the room but not the bed with the child, and not use swings, wedges, crib bumpers or other devices that could adversely impact an infant’s breathing.

Led by clinical nurse specialist Karen Corson, the team included labor and delivery education specialist Marge Flannery, obstetrics department nurse Michele Frock and perinatology nurse Jill Fischer, who put in place the measures that achieved the designation.

Governor Hogan signs landmark health care legislation

State of MarylandGovernor Larry Hogan, joined by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and Speaker of the House Mike Busch, on Thursday signed landmark legislation to stabilize Maryland’s health care insurance market and prevent rates from soaring.

“This problem should have been solved in Washington, but nothing has been done. Our team has been working on potential solutions for more than a year, and I want to thank the Speaker, the Senate President, and legislators from both parties for working together with us in a common sense, bipartisan manner to address this crisis head-on and to prevent these massive rate increases,” said Governor Hogan. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together, and I’m proud to be signing these protections into law.”

In the absence of a comprehensive health care solution from Congress and the federal government, health insurance rates on Maryland’s individual market were set to increase by 50 percent or more in the coming year.

After nearly a decade of increasing rates under the Affordable Care Act, the Hogan administration says that the overall stability and foundation of Maryland’s health care market was in jeopardy.

The legislation signed on Thursday (HB 1795/SB 1267) creates the structure for a reinsurance program to be administered by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange (MHBE), which is predicted to help stabilize rates for the next several years. MHBE’s board must vote to formally apply for a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create the reinsurance program.

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The governor and presiding officers also signed the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bills, providing record investment in K-12 education for the fourth year in a row, more than $420 million in school construction funding, increased funding to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, and historic investment in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

“This marks the fourth straight year that we have passed a balanced budget with the support of both parties in both houses,” said Governor Hogan.

In addition to the record $6.5 billion for K-12 education, the budget includes $40 million in critical funding for school safety improvements. It also invests a record $1.2 billion in state funds toward wide-ranging Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

Finally, the governor signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Extension Act (SB 290), which reaffirms Maryland’s commitment to the multi-state, regional partnership combating climate change known as RGGI. The new law prevents future administrations from withdrawing from RGGI without legislative approval.

“This legislation will prevent future governors from undoing our legacy and our strong commitment to clean air, unless the legislature agrees and votes to do so,” said Governor Hogan. “I want to thank the legislature for their support of our bipartisan efforts to cement Maryland’s national and international leadership in clean air, clean water, and protecting the environment.”

Zika virus prevention tips from Baltimore County

Zika Virus MosquitoAs the summer winds down, Baltimore County is offering helpful tips to residents to help prevent the spread of the Zika Virus.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent the virus’ spread.

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats, when concerned about mosquitoes
  • Repair damaged window and door screens so mosquitoes do not come indoors
  • Always empty containers that hold water and remove trash to avoid creating mosquito breeding sites
  • Protect yourself and use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package instructions
  • Use condoms or abstain from sexual activity if you are pregnant and your male partner has been in an area with Zika

For more prevention tips, head to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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Zika Prevention Tips

Free hearing screenings on May 3, May 18

Hearing ScreeningMay is “Better Hearing and Speech Month” and Baltimore County is stepping up to the plate.

On Tuesday, May 3, and Wednesday, May 18, interested individuals can receive free hearing screenings at the Eastern Family Resource Center, located at 9100 Franklin Square Drive.

Baltimore County residents and employees may receive a free hearing screening provided by a certified, licensed audiologist.

Anyone who has difficulty hearing, has ringing in their ears, or frequently asks people to repeat themselves should consider participating.

Free screenings are also available at Liberty Family Resource Center in Randallstown and at Drumcastle Government Center in Baltimore.

To schedule an appointment, call 410-887-6443.

Free Hearing Screening 2016