Sheila Juarez knows first-hand the importance of learning infant Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation.
Years ago, as a young mother, she took a CPR class and when her daughter was a year-old, she had to use the knowledge.
“I found her under the table and she was blue,” Juarez said, recalling a memory no mother wants to re-live.
She took her choking daughter, cradling her in her hand and hit her on the back, but she was still blue. Juarez said she had to use a bit more force the second time, which did the trick. The child started to regain her pink color.
“I was very thankful I took (the class) because I wouldn’t have know what to do,” she said.
Today Juarez, staff development coordinator at Central Peninsula Hospital, is an advocate for infant CPR.
“Choking is the leading cause of infant death,” she said. “It is the number one emergency.”
Juarez said because of the importance of the need for new parents, as well as anyone who wishes to learn, CPH was recently awarded a grant to further infant CPR education.
Juarez said Central Peninsula Health Foundation awarded CPH a grant of $2,900 to purchase 15 new reusable mannequins for teaching infant CPR in the classroom setting. Classes were held in September and October, the next class will be held Nov. 30 in the Denali Room at CPH.
Nicole Price, fellow staff development coordinator, said the grant and program was something Juarez identified as a necessity.
“This is a need that (Juarez) identified on her own,” Price said. “She came up with the funding on her own merit.”
Juarez said that often times when a child is choking, time is of the essence. After the call to 9-1-1, if parents are able to perform CPR on their infant or child, the better the chances are for the child’s survival.
“By the time (a child) turns blue, if you’re waiting on an ambulance, (parents) need to know what to do before (responders) come,” she said.
She urges parents to at least try.
“Perfect CPR won’t always save a life, imperfect CPR can save a life, so just try it,” she said. “Even if you don’t do it perfect… I did not do it perfect and my daughter is alive.”
Birthing classes, held on Saturday, include infant CPR and infant feeding protocol. Birthing class is $75, but for those wanting to just take infant CPR, the fee is only $5 and includes an American Heart Association CPR book.
Kathy Gensel, Central Peninsula Health Foundation director, said the foundation is a 15-member board made up of all local community members.
When Juarez approached the foundation about the grant, Gensel said the members were happy to help.
“When (Juarez) came to us and asked us about the infant CPR mannequins, it was kind of a no brainer,” she said. “Our mission is a healthy community, so whatever we can do out in the community to help people, then that’s what we like to do.”
The foundation awarded the grant, which paid for mannequins out of its unrestricted funds. CPH now has 15 reusable and 40-boxed infant CPR anytime kits that it gives out to new parents of pre-term infants.
Kits include a CPR book, reusable infant mannequin and a 20 minute- self- guided video.
“The board was absolutely thrilled to be able to do that,” Gensel said. “If it saves one life, it was well worth it.”
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at email@example.com