Salem, VA, January, 2015 – LewisGale Regional Health System is changing one of its long-held New Year’s traditions of announcing its new year babies in light of a new recommendation from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center encouraged hospitals to reconsider providing birth announcements to the media because of infant abduction concerns which statistics show are more likely during the holidays.

The change impacts both LewisGale Medical Center and LewisGale Hospital Montgomery, the two LewisGale hospitals that deliver babies.

“While we understand this is an exciting time for families, out of an abundance of caution, we want to provide our babies with the safest environment possible,” said Debra Ray, Maternity Director, LewisGale Medical Center. “We feel it is important to follow the advice of the experts. Many of our HCA security policies are based on the recommendations of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, between 1983 and 2014 there were 132 infant abductions from healthcare facilities, five of those children are still missing. For the last two years, 2013 and 2014, there have been no abductions.

“The good news is that healthcare facilities nationwide are seeing an improvement in infant security measures and a corresponding decrease in the number of abductions,” said Ray. “But we can never be too safe, especially when it comes to our most vulnerable patients.”

Both LewisGale hospitals still found a special way to celebrate the first baby born in the new year. At LewisGale Medical Center the parents of the first baby of 2015 received a $250 gift card from the hospital. At LewisGale Hospital Montgomery the baby was given a hand knitted blanket and hat to go home in along with a diaper bag full of baby care items.

About LewisGale Regional Health System
LewisGale Regional Health System includes 44 HCA-owned patient care facilities including 4 hospitals, 2 regional cancer centers and a multidisciplinary cancer clinic, 6 outpatient centers and affiliations with nearly 700 physicians, including 146 employed providers and more than 500 independent physicians. With 3,300 employees, its annual payroll is $230.1 million. The system also paid $41 million in taxes and provided more than $106 million in uncompensated care to those most in need in 2012 alone. LewisGale is also part of HCA Virginia, the largest and most comprehensive healthcare provider in the Commonwealth with nearly 15,000 employees. For more information see www.lewisgale.com.