Infant left at hospital under Safe Haven law


A young mother left her infant at a southwest valley hospital Friday under Nevada's rarely used Safe Haven law.

Las Vegas police said the woman, described as in her early 20s, dropped off the 22-day-old baby at the emergency room of St. Rose Dominican Hospital, San Martin campus. The woman said the baby was born Feb. 9.

Hospital officials asked no questions, saw the baby was healthy and notified Clark County Child Protective Services, police officer Marcus Martin said.

Las Vegas police detectives checked to ensure there were no local reports of stolen children and determined whether the child could be cleared for adoption.

The mother's actions may be only the second time a parent in Clark County has used the Safe Haven law in its 11-year history. In April 2010, a man left a 2-day-old boy at a fire station. That case was considered the first use of the law in Clark County.

The law, enacted in 2001 after a series of infant deaths, allows parents to anonymously leave a child with emergency care providers within 30 days of the child's birth.

But the law is seldom-used, and babies continue to be left in trash bins or fall victim to fatal parental abuse. As recently as October, a newborn girl was found dead in a trash bin in an east valley apartment complex. Medical examiners never determined whether the girl was alive at birth. The parents were never found.

Martin said the mother's actions Friday should be an example to others.

"Hopefully more people will take note of what happened, and we'll see fewer children in Dumpsters," he said.

The incident was unique for the St. Rose Dominican hospitals, spokeswoman Jennifer McDonnell said.

"We can't remember this happening locally at any of our facilities," she said.

The local hospital chain made the Safe Haven law the cover piece of its most recent issue of Women's Care magazine, which it publishes quarterly and mails to about 400,000 homes across the valley.

The status of the 22-day-old infant is not clear. Police said the baby was turned over to Child Protective Services. Clark County Family Services will arrange temporary care of the infant, who can be placed for adoption.

For more information on the law, visit safehavennv.org or call 877-885-HOPE. Calls are answered by the Crisis Call Center of Nevada.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

 

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