For the past two years, the Bauer Family Resources center has been working to lower the local infant mortality rate. And in 2016, Tippecanoe County had zero deaths. Now they'll be able to expand their programs thanks to a grant from the Indiana Department of Health.
"I have responded to seven infant deaths in my career and I could give you details about every single one, those are calls you just do not forget," said Darrell Clase, Director of Emergency Medical Services Tippecanoe County.
Clase has worked in Emergency Medical Services for 18 years. He said, "The very first infant that I responded to, my son was about the same age at the time and I actually saw my son when I walked in the door. It was my partner who had to hit me and say 'hey, get your head back in the game' because I'm presented with an infant that's about the same age and just as a brand new father, I kinda lost my focus for a second."
He takes comfort in knowing the state is working to reduce infant mortality, saying, "There's not a community here locally or in the state that doesn't face these types of issues."
The Indiana Department of Health is handing out $11,000,000 in grant money to seven agencies across the state. One of them is the Bauer Family Resources center.
"Infant deaths related to unsafe sleep practices is 100 percent preventable and we want to be able to connect pregnant mothers, expectant mothers with resources," said Cassie Wade, Clinical Service Director at Bauer Family Resources.
She explained, "What it will do specifically, it will expand our safe sleep initiatives and provide us the opportunity to hire a full-time safe-sleep specialist."
With this grant, the Bauer Family Resources center will be able to expand the work it's doing.
She added, "Getting connected to prenatal care, providing them with information about the benefits of quitting smoking, about receiving prenatal care, about, safe sleep environments."
And making sure mothers know their ABCs.
"Infants, the best place for them to sleep is alone, on their back and in a crib," said Wade.
Bauer also gives safety books to every family that has a baby in a Tippecanoe County hospital. The grant will allow Bauer to expand coverage across the region.
Wade said, "We've been doing this work since 2015, expanded in 2016 and this grant will allow us to expand even further in 2018." That work helped the county reach zero deaths in 2016.
"It was a phenomenal feat and it was a feat that was accomplished by multiple organizations here in Tippecanoe County," said Clase.
Clase is on the Child Fatality Review team in Tippecanoe County. He says he is glad to see people continuing to work at this.
"It's a good thing and if it takes addition funding to help support it, then that's the direction we need to go," said Clase.
Wade says they will get the grant money over a span of four years, and they expect to expand their programs starting in January 2018.