MUNSTER – Nurse clinician Mary Puntillo of Community Hospital, Munster, has been selected as a co-recipient of the 2018 Douglas J. Leonard Indiana Caregiver of the Year award.
The Indiana Hospital Association award honors an individual whose performance in the delivery of care is considered exemplary by patients and peers. The award was presented to Puntillo during the IHA’s annual banquet on Sept. 26 in Indianapolis.
Puntillo was recognized for her efforts to keep babies safe in their cribs and spread the message of safe sleep practices across the state.
“As a neonatal clinician, Mary has been a passionate advocate for improving infant safety for countless mothers and babies in the Community Healthcare System as well as in the community,” said Jean Gardner, director of education services, who submitted the nomination. “Mary has led the ‘Back to Bed’ and ‘Safe Sleep’ campaigns throughout our organization and through community outreach. She is persistent in ensuring we demonstrate safe sleep in the hospital setting as a model for caregivers at home. In Northwest Indiana sleep related deaths continue to be a major cause of death after the first month of age in infants so the need is crucial.”
Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths or SUIDs, for the most part, are preventable and are a result of unsafe sleep practices, according to Community Hospital.
Lake County has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state. In 2017, the average was 8.5 (per live 1,000 births), compared with 7.2 for the state overall. That rate increases to 12.8 for African-American infants, according to a National Vital Statistics Report.
Safe sleep practices, as guided by Puntillo, are taught to new mothers in the nurseries of Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center.