Thursday, September 2, 2010


Some days, it's harder to remember that I make a difference at my job.
Yesterday was one of those days. 

Over a year ago, we had a 2 month old who was DOA from home.

Let's call him Toby. His mother was having a hard time sleeping, so she placed a pacifier in Toby's little mouth, and taped it onto his face. As irrational as this seems, I believe she did this so he wouldn't "lose" the pacifer, and wake up. She could get through a night without his waking and crying. with Toby's continual sucking on the pacifier, the tape became wet and soggy.

It migrated to his nose and covered it.  so, toby had no way to breathe. as shocking as this story is...the outcome of her case was even more shocking to me. she received 2 to 6 years for this crime. Verdict finally handed down yesterday.

Several hours after I heard this news....another DOA from home! This was a 3 month old whose mother placed him on a semi-inflated air mattress. Some how his mouth got wedged into the tight concave portions of the mattress.

I cannot begin to count the number of times a drugged, or drunken mother, has fallen asleep with her infant and suffocated them. or, the calls, "my baby has had a fever of 103 for 3 days...what should i do?"
When i left work, I spent some time going deeper into my memories of working with children. When I first arrived in PA in the mid-80's, I had a government grant to work on a SIDS project with a nearby WV hospital. at that time, SIDS was not accepted as a cause of death; therefore, a coroner could not write that on the certificate.

At that time, we knew so little about SIDS. statistics showed it was usually a male, usually happening in the spring, and usually around 3:00am. We also knew that WV had the second highest incidence of SIDS.  only VA had higher statistics because DC was lumped in with their totals. Some families has such a large number of SIDS, that the children were not name until 2 or 3 years of age. and, parents didn't bond with their children until they were named.

The grant was to investigate the children we termed "near" SIDS cases. We offered a free clinic for parents and near SIDS infants. We gave them free round-trip transportation, food, physical and psychological
examinations. Further, we gave them free medication, free mattress monitors and an alarm system. All they really needed to do was to arrive at our free clinic once a month. Some came to the clinic. some did not.  The clinical nurse, Jodi, and I went to visit the homes of the no-shows.

Some homes were closed to strangers permitted. Shotguns were produced to chase us off the property.  Some mothers were interested, but the child's father refused.  Ok, so the WV home visits happened almost 20 years ago.  Some of these visits also happened in the deepest recesses of WV: the hollars.

Ok, so 20 years has passed, and my town has almost 50,000 people.  I'm not in a hollar. Aren't we more educated? Aren't we more informed? What's happened to common sense? We give free pre-natal care.
What about post-natal care? Mandatory parenting classes?

All in all, I do a good job at work. for your family and for your child(ren). Why aren't those mothers doing a good job?
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  1. Sam, I read your post not only from a visitor standpoint but also from a respiratory therapist viewpoint. I see so much of what you speak about. It's enough to make the heart stop beating and the soul to wonder... I have worked on children from preemies to adolescents and I quickly learned that "things happen" and there is not much that we can do about it - try as we may.

    Thank God that all of the people that I help take care of are children because of they were I would not be in this profession.

    Blessings to you, my friend.

  2. Sorry about the word left out of my comment: it should read: Thank God that all of the people that I take care of are NOT children...

  3. Sam, thank you for your self sacrifice and dedication to the children. Your service is above the call of duty.

  4. Very interesting article and eye-opener - even tho we hear about kids dying - I personally didn't realize so many of them were from situations like described above - thanks for posting - keep up the good work.

    Skype: nancyradlinger

  5. What a heart wrenching story SAM & I take my hat off to you for the dedicated work I know you do at the Centre. I lost a son at 21 through suicide just 10 yrs ago, so I understand a crisis & how it effects folks. Keep up your wonderful work, you are a special person.


  6. Sam, Blessings to you Love! Your heart is amazing. Rest in The Holt Spirits arms and regenerate Love. God Bless you!

  7. Sam, thank you for your self sacrifice and dedication to the children. Your service is above the call of duty.