A Safe Haven Baby Box could be installed at Corbin’s fire station.
Corbin Fire Battalion Chief Jack Partin suggested on Monday installing one of the boxes, where new moms in crisis can, without fear of persecution or judgment, surrender a newborn if they think they cannot care for it.
“Saint Joseph [Medical Center] in London has the funding to pay for it all and it’s around $15,000 to do the install, do the alarm system, and everything is ready and locked in as far as funding goes,” Partin said to Mayor Razmus and Commissioners. “I just need your all’s approval to go ahead and sign the agreement with Safe Haven Baby Box. Once we do the agreement, it should be installed in about five to seven weeks.”
He said six babies were reportedly surrendered in the Tri-County this past year. All of these were surrendered safely at Baptist Health Corbin or Saith Joseph Medical Center. In April 2022, Baptist Health Corbin received a surrendered baby for the first time since the hospital implemented the Kentucky Safe Haven policy over 15 years ago.
Partin also explained to Commissioners the Baby Box is a safety device that would be installed in the exterior wall of Corbin's fire station. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside and an interior door which would alert a firefighter or 911 dispatcher by alarm to care for the surrendered newborn from inside the station.
EMS would then be notified to transport the baby to the nearest hospital to provide all necessary medical care, diagnostic tests, and medical treatment. Medical staff would work alongside Social Services to seek an emergency custody order to continue care for the baby.
Mayor Razmus responded, “I have a couple questions, this is the first time I’ve heard of it. Saint Joseph applied for the grant?”
Partin said, “Technically its Molly Harris and Jara Burkhart...I met them through the Child Fatality Review Board that I’m on and we started working on this over a year ago about trying to get one [baby box] in this area.” He added, “There’s a need for it.”
Commissioner Seth Reeves asked, “So, if somebody drops a child off at the fire department, the first thing you all do is take the child to the hospital, right? The one word that sticks out to me is ‘liability’.” He said, “Sounds like we’re opening ourselves up to a tremendous amount of liability when this safe haven box could be placed at the hospital where the child is ultimately going to end up.”
“Well,” said Partin. “Last year, Kentucky passed a statute that all fire departments are safe havens basically.”
“I like the idea and concept, and I appreciate your hard work because truly the life of a child is important,” Mayor Razmus said. “We need a little bit of time and we do need to speak to our insurance carrier. If we are going to do it, we need to do it right.”
City Attorney Bob Hammons added, “There’s two things: for sure, you have to make sure our liability insurance covers it because it's more than just dropping a baby off. Number two: the statute [statute.aspx (ky.gov))] is very specific as what the duties are and those duties have to be followed to the t and our insurance may or may not cover it.”
Razmus concluded, "We will dig into this and talk to some other fire departments across the state who have done this." To Partin, she said, "Thank you for your hard work."
Kentucky's Safe Haven Law was passed in 2002.
This is a developing story. We will give updates on the Corbin City Commission’s decision as The Kentucky Daily learns more.
Staff Report by The Kentucky Daily