Albany Med offers car seat program for medically fragile children

Albany County
Car seat program

Child Passenger Safety Technicians Laura Franke and Laura Bauer use a training doll to demonstrate the safe use of a Wallenberg hip-cast car seat (Credit: Albany Medical Center)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany Medical Center is offering a car seat program for medically fragile babies and children. Albany Med is one of two hospitals in New York to offer the program.

Medically fragile children are often unable to use a traditional car seat. Without a specialized car seat, Albany Med said families often need to call a cab to get home for legal reasons.

Children are legally permitted to travel in a taxi without the aid of a car seat. However, children under eight need to sit in a car seat for all other motor vehicle travel.

The car seat program loans families a car seat tailored to their child’s condition. A child passenger safety specialist installs the seat and answers any questions families have as they leave the hospital.

Albany Med said the certified child passenger safety technicians serve a wide range of medically fragile children, including infants from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, children who have sustained trauma or injuries and those with congenital conditions.

“We don’t know what we would’ve done without this program,” said Andrea Gollinger, whose 2-year-old daughter broke her thighbone and was placed in a body cast too long and wide for a traditional car seat. “It’s not like I could have gone to Walmart and bought the seat we needed.”

The specialized seats loaned to families include models that allow children to lie down or be supported by special boosters, harnesses or lateral head supports. Funding for the program’s car seats comes from a grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee in coordination with Albany Med Injury Prevention and Outreach.

“We fit the child to the seat before they leave the hospital,” said Occupational Therapist Laura Franke, one of the program’s six certified specialists. “Often families have questions and we walk them through everything. We provide thorough education both at the bedside while fitting the child in the seat and at the car during the seat’s installation.”

Albany Med said it is aiming to expand the program to include all infant and pediatric patients.

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