Published on January 27, 2020

OHRH provides 'smart cradle' for grieving families

By Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger-Inquirer

owensboro health team members holds cooling pad next to smart cradle

After a pregnancy loss, many families want to spend as much time as possible with their infants.

Often, mothers are hospitalized for days after giving birth. Because deceased infants are not released to a funeral home until the mom is discharged from the hospital, that can be precious time to see and hold a child who will never go home.

Earlier this week, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital received a Cenotaph Smart Cradle, which slows natural processes after death. The bassinet can preserve an infant’s body for several days.

Robin Locher, OHRH manager of labor and delivery, knows firsthand how important that time can be to grieving families. Nearly three decades ago, Locher suffered a fetal loss.

“All I got was a Polaroid,” Locher said.

Today, OHRH’s fetal bereavement program, called Footprints on My Heart, provides bereavement gowns, professional photographs of babies, copies of footprints and other mementos.

Now, the hospital can offer the gift of time.

The smart cradle is equipped with a cooling unit that keeps the bassinet’s gel-filled liner at 42 to 45 degrees. The chilled liner can be used when families hold or rock their babies.

The cradle allows parents to keep the deceased baby in the mom’s room if she chooses.

“It helps with allowing families to spend the time they want with their babies,” Locher said.

The bereavement cradle features an Amish-crafted oak cabinet on wheels. The bassinet is clear plexiglass.

On average, OHRH’s mom/baby unit deals with about two losses a month. Locher hopes one smart cradle will be enough to meet the department’s needs.

A $5,000 grant from Dart Polymers Foundation paid for the cradle. OH Foundation applied for the grant.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.