Hospitals opt for New Year baby policy

Published 12:11 am Thursday, January 1, 2015

NATCHEZ — The New Year is often depicted as a baby taking a few tentative steps into the future.

But the baby whose birth will symbolize 2015 for the Miss-Lou? He or she just might remain a mystery, at least for a few days.

Newspapers everywhere have traditionally done feature stories about the first baby born in their community on New Year’s Day — or shortly thereafter. But this year many hospitals in the U.S. have decided not to share the joyous news with the community.

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Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital are among the healthcare facilities joining the movement, with hospital officials citing a company-wide decision following advocacy from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

NRMC and NCH Chief Executive Officer Eric Robinson said the decision was in order to respect patient safety and privacy. Both hospitals’ parent company is Community Health Systems, one of the nation’s largest health care chains.

“When we step back and look at it, (the mother and child) are patients in the hospital, and we don’t make announcements for anything else,” Robinson said.

“It has always been tradition for a New Year’s Baby to be announced, but on a company-wide decision they decided not to make that exception.”

Robinson said the move is not intended in any way to be understood as hostile to sharing the good news, and the hospital will be giving whoever the lucky parents are a letter explaining the decision.

“We certainly don’t have a problem if the child ends up in the newspaper, but we have decided we don’t really want to be a part of that or a middleman,” he said. “There is the nice thing to do and there is the right thing to do, and the right thing to do is protect patient privacy.”

In an online statement Wednesday, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said it did not specifically recommend hospitals forego New Year’s baby announcements, but did urge taking common sense precautions to protect children.