An hours-old baby girl whose family surrendered her at a Wantagh fire station on Thanksgiving is healthy, playful and eating, hospital officials said Friday.
The infant’s mother spoke with a counselor at a crisis hotline Wednesday and called back Thursday to turn the baby over under a law that allows it with no criminal repercussions, said Scott Cohen, a board member of AMT Children of Hope Foundation, which accepts relinquished infants.
“She decided to make probably the most difficult decision of her life. And that was to relinquish her baby into the Safe Haven program,” Cohen said at a Nassau University Medical Center news conference.
The premature infant, now known as Baby Girl Hope, still had part of her umbilical cord attached and tied with thread when she arrived at the firehouse shortly before noon Thursday, NUMC officials said.
Cohen, a retired Nassau police medic, said Wantagh firefighters were returning from another call when a dispatcher notified them of the situation, and they took custody of the child in “a matter of a couple minutes.”
Officials said New York law allows a parent or guardian to anonymously surrender an infant within 30 days of the child’s birth at a Safe Haven facility — which includes any firehouse, police station, or hospital where someone is present to accept the baby — without facing abandonment charges.
Hospital officials couldn’t specifically say who brought the child to the firehouse, just that family was involved.
NUMC’s president and chief executive Dr. Victor Politi said the newborn, when healthy enough, would be released to Nassau County’s Social Services department for placement in temporary foster care and then a permanent home.
Politi, the county’s former acting police commissioner, said Nassau police had looked into the matter “and there’s no further investigation ongoing with this incident.”
Hope, a patient in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, weighs 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and overall is “very, very healthy, very active and able to feed,” he said.
“Here we have a little girl that is probably going to go to school, probably have birthday parties, and go to college, and maybe get married one day and become, who knows, maybe a female president,” Politi said. “We’re hoping that this baby will have a bright future. . . . There’s no shortage of families that are looking to adopt babies.”
Dr. Harriet Boxer, the hospital’s neonatology director, said Hope is a white female born at 36 weeks, with “not too much hair,” and whose eye color isn’t known yet. She said besides starting to eat on her own, the infant was getting IV fluids and her body temperature was being controlled.
“She’s very cute,” Boxer said, adding that it was clear whoever gave her up cared about her.
“She arrived dressed, with a diaper on. She was clean and she wasn’t cold, so someone had a lot of common sense and took care of her until the point that she got to the fire station,” Boxer said. “Other times, you’ll see a baby like this will just be, you know, left somewhere, or even worse. Because we’ve had experience with that also,” she said.
Of Hope, the physician added: “My nurses are taking care of her. She will be loved, I promise you that.”
Dr. Krishan Kumar, NUMC’s pediatric emergency medicine director, said the newborn “was sleeping so well I felt jealous” when she arrived at the hospital.
“It was a blessing in disguise . . . a Thanksgiving present to us,” he said.
Cohen said the crisis hotline number is 877-796-HOPE and more information on the law is available at www.amtchildrenofhope.com. The AMT foundation is a Long Island-based nonprofit founded by members of the Ambulance Medical Technicians of the Nassau County Police Department.
“There’s no reason to be scared . . . You don’t have to give your name, you don’t have to give any information, you can ask any questions that you want and you do not have to worry,” he said of potential hotline callers.