Covenant Health
This week's reflection

This week's reflection

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.

John Updike

Covenant Health Angel Cradles

What are Angel Cradles?
In 2013, Covenant Health introduced a new way to reach Edmontonians in need by opening two newborn safe havens where newborns can be safely abandoned. The Angel Cradles, which are the first in Alberta, are located by the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and Misericordia Community Hospital Emergency Departments.

The goal of Covenant Health’s Angel Cradles is to enhance the existing safety net. It does not replace the quality work provided by community social service agencies. The hospitals will not try to locate the parents of a baby left in the Angel Cradle. Leaving a baby in the Angel Cradle is not a criminal offence. If a baby is left in the Angel Cradle, the doctors and nurses will check on the baby. A hospital social worker will contact Children’s Services who will arrange for someone to look after the baby. Only if there are signs that a baby has been abused will it be reported to the police.

 “As a Catholic organization, we draw on our rich history, which has a tradition of providing safety and care to those who are most vulnerable, including abandoned infants,” says Gordon Self, VP Mission, Ethics and Spirituality. "That is why we are so committed to developing services such as Angel Cradle. We certainly support the rights of children to know their parental history, as declared by the World Health Organization, as well as the rights of fathers, but despite the criticism of the WHO regarding baby hatches, we recognize that unsafe abandonment still occurs in our society, and this preventative measure at least gives a child a chance to know its history and be reunited if later the parent(s) comes forward. In a moment of desperation, a rash decision may be made that can have dire consequences."

History of Angel Cradles
Originally known as foundling wheels, newborn safe havens have Catholic roots. In 1198, Pope Innocent III ordered foundling wheels in churches and orphanages after he was disturbed by the number of babies being abandoned in the Tiber River. They tended to fade from history with the development of modern health care and social services, but in recent decades baby hatches began reappearing across Europe and Asia, and safe haven legislation has been enacted in the majority of U.S. states.