I-Team: Baby’s Death May Prompt NYC Day Care Changes

Health Department proposes new rules for monitoring sleeping infants.

Day care centers in New York City may soon have strict new rules for monitoring sleeping infants following an I-Team investigation into the death of a 4-month-old Staten Island boy last year.

Jeremy Davila died March 25, 2011 at the Kiddie Academy of Staten Island, where a child care worker found him unresponsive in his crib. The medical examiner listed Jeremy’s cause of death as “undetermined,” but ruled out Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  

“There’s not one day I don’t think about Jeremy and how senseless it was,” said Jeanette Davila, who has filed a lawsuit against Kiddie Academy of Staten Island with her husband. “We’re scarred for life and we need to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Records indicate Jeremy had not been checked for several hours, and his parents remain haunted by the notion that he might have been saved had workers checked on him more frequently and found him in distress.

Now, the Health Department is proposing a number of changes to the city’s health code to further protect children in day care.

Key changes include a requirement that sleeping babies be physically checked at least once every 15 minutes, and day care workers must document the baby’s breathing status and look for signs of distress.

In Jeremy's case, he was put down for his nap at 2:30 p.m., and according to a city investigation, no one checked on him for several hours, a finding Kiddie Academy disputes. The Administration for Children’s Services also determined two day care workers on staff that day had provided “inadequate guardianship” of Jeremy, a form of neglect.

Other proposed changes would include better training for child care workers so they can properly respond in an emergency. This change was a result of concerns by city officials that the Kiddie Academy workers “panicked” and failed to administer CPR or call 911 in a timely fashion.

Records obtained by News 4 also suggest one of the workers panicked, leading to a delay in CPR or calls to 911. Phone logs from FDNY show the emergency call was received at 5:57 p.m., at least 12 minutes from the time workers said they discovered Jeremy.

Also under the Health Department’s proposed changes, day care centers would be required to give parents clear information on how to check a facility’s status or disciplinary history with the state. And cribs or bassinets would be required to “be free of bumper pads, sleep positioning devices not medically prescribed, loose bedding and blankets, toys and other suffocation risks.”

In a statement, Kiddie Academy said: “The infant caregivers caring for Jeremy were both CPR and First Aid certified. The caregivers routinely checked on Jeremy, as they do all the children. Jeremy’s death was a tragedy, but did not involve any lack of care or delay in response on the part of our facility or caregivers. CPR was administered immediately.  A trained Emergency Medical Technician, who is also parent to a child in our facility, took over CPR while 911 was called.  There was no delay in calling 911. 

The proposed rule changes will go to the Board of Health for review and, if approved, would go out for public comment.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who with other councilmembers called a hearing following News 4's original report on Jeremy's death last November, said she was pleased with the Health Department proposals.

“What happened to that child shouldn’t have happened and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Quinn.

Some parents tell NBC New York they’re surprised there is no rule already in place that requires frequent checks of sleeping infants.

“I can’t find any excuse for not checking on the baby physically,” said Lori Samsel, whose infant son is in day care. “As a mom, I would like there to be something in place that guarantees that they’re putting as much attention on my baby as I would at home.”

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