The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) and community partners are planning a local observation of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Volunteer Landing, 900 Volunteer Landing Lane. A national observation, this day was created to provide support to and awareness of those who have lost an infant or pregnancy.
“In our work to prevent infant loss and promote health pregnancies and babies, we’ve seen a need for more community support for the families who have experienced this tragic loss,” said KCHD Program Manager Katie Larsen. “Our hope is to provide a time for these families to honor and remember their babies, however short their lives may have been, in an environment where they are surrounded by love and understanding.”
All those who have been touched by this heartbreaking loss are encouraged to attend. Event participants will have the opportunity to write their baby’s name or date of loss on a luminary candle. Several local mothers who have experienced this loss will address the crowd in addition to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, University of Tennessee Medical Center Chaplain Steve Sexton and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Emergency Pediatrician Dr. Mary Palmer. In honor of the families, the City of Knoxville will change the Henley Street Bridge lights to pink and blue. Information about community resources will be available at the event. Registration is free and is available online at utmedicalcenter.org/events or in-person before the event at 6 p.m.
In 2015, the infant mortality rate in Tennessee was 7 per thousand, which is 25 percent higher than the national average. In Knox County, 10.5 percent of births were premature; and prematurity is the leading cause of infant death. While some causes of infant loss and prematurity are preventable, others are not or the cause is unknown.
Improving the well-being of mothers, infants and children is an important community health goal for KCHD, as reflected in the organization’s Community Health Assessment. The Oct. 15 event is made possible by support from the University of Tennessee Medical Center and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The event is an outcome of KCHD’s Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) program, which is funded by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health. FIMR is an action-oriented community process that continually assesses, monitors and works to improve service systems and community resources for women, infants and families.