Minnesota launches program for families who have lost babies

Star Legacy Foundation, an Eden Prairie-based nonprofit organization, announced the launch of the Minnesota Center for Stillbirth and Infant Death, according to a press release. The program was launched in late 2019 and serves Minnesota families who have experienced the death of a baby during pregnancy or infancy. More than 400 families have been served since the center first opened.

The center will host virtual meet and greet sessions to introduce the program, the services offered and provide details about how to refer a family for support. Sessions will be at noon Sept. 17, at 5 p.m. Sept. 21 and at noon Sept. 22. Registration and more details are available at mncsid.org.

Every year in Minnesota, approximately 400 babies are stillborn and 350 die during infancy, according to the release, and in addition to the intense grief, families often suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma related to the experience. There is significant racial disparity in the deaths as Black and Native American babies are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or infancy as those from other backgrounds. Many families report feeling isolated and stigmatized, the release stated.

“It is heartbreaking to know that a family who has already been devastated by the death of their baby has that grief compounded by friends and family uncomfortable talking about their baby,” said Lindsey Wimmer, executive director of Star Legacy Foundation.

The Minnesota Center for Stillbirth and Infant Death was created to ensure all families have access to health professionals who have expertise with these losses, the entire family is considered and lack of resources is not a barrier to the support needed, the release stated. Nurses and social workers connect with each family to provide comfort, assess immediate needs, offer written information, connect to available resources and more. Virtual support groups are available for the entire family as well.

Examples of support offered include referrals to mental health services, financial support, assistance with funeral and disposition arrangements, coordination of services, and communication with employers and schools. Services provided by Star Legacy Foundation are free to families and low-cost options are available for other services. Written materials are available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali, and interpreters are available.

“The social distancing required during the recent pandemic has increased the need for support for many individuals,” said Jennifer Kouri, a nurse and family support coordinator for Star Legacy Foundation. “However, we know there are many more families who are grieving alone. We want them to know we are here and we can help.”

The Minnesota Center for Stillbirth and Infant Death is a project of the Star Legacy Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in Eden Prairie. Star Legacy Foundation is dedicated to reducing the incidence of stillbirth and neonatal death and improving care when prevention isn’t possible. The Minnesota Center for Stillbirth and Infant Death is supported by funding from Star Legacy Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Health, CentraCare Health Foundation and the Richard M. Schulz Family Foundation.

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