Monica Kelsey, Save Haven Baby Boxes, Lutheran Downtown

Monica Kelsey holds a doll to demonstrate the Safe Haven Baby Box installed at Lutheran Downtown Hospital. Kelsey, who shared that she had been abandoned as an infant, founded Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

The first Safe Haven Baby Box installed in Fort Wayne was dedicated at Lutheran Downtown Hospital on Friday. The Baby Box is built into the south brick wall in the ambulance bay closest to Main and Jackson streets.

“We are so thrilled to finally have a Safe Haven Baby Box in Fort Wayne,” Monica Kelsey, Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder, said. “We know this will be an invaluable resource permitting anonymous surrender for mothers in crisis and their infants.”

The hospital partnered with Kelsey’s organization to install the secure compartment. It provides a mother who is in crisis an option to safely, securely and anonymously surrender her infant under Indiana’s Safe Haven Law. The box is monitored around the clock. The hospital medical staff is trained to safely take care of a surrendered infant.

“The Lutheran Health Network is committed to providing care for the most vulnerable in our community and we are proud to partner with organizations in those efforts,” said Twilla Lee, CEO, Lutheran Downtown Hospital.

The Lutheran Health Network hospital leadership team, representatives from Safe Haven Baby Boxes, members of several local public safety agencies, and elected officials gathered outside the ambulance bay at the hospital, 702 Van Buren St., to dedicate the Baby Box.

“While we hope this is a resource we never see used, it is comforting that our hospital can provide an option for any woman in our community who feels like she is in a hopeless situation,” Lee said.

Kelsey demonstrated how the Baby Box works using a doll as a stand-in for an actual baby.

“Last month we saw three Indiana mothers utilize our Baby Boxes and we are proud that Fort Wayne mothers in crisis will have this opportunity if they need it,” she said.

Kelsey said she first saw a baby surrender box during a visit to Africa several years ago. She related that her own mother had surrendered her as an infant. Those combined experiences brought the idea of a baby box to fruition.

According to a news release issued by LDH, 18 infants have been placed in baby boxes since 2017 and 119 surrenders have occurred nationwide from parents who have used the National Safe Haven Baby Box hot line at 1-866-99BABY1.

Visit shbb.org for more information. Safe Haven Baby Boxes are currently available in Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and New Mexico.

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