The tragic death of Elijah Silvera still reverberates throughout the allergic community. The 3 year-old boy with severe milk allergy died in the care of the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem last week after being fed a grilled cheese sandwich. The daycare has since remained closed pending the results of an investigation by authorities.
In the meantime, New York City officials have instituted a new requirement in the hope that it will prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Elijah was left in throes of an anaphylactic reaction while school administrators called his mother and waited for her to pick him up. She then had to carry the child 10 blocks to the nearest hospital because the school had not called emergency services. Had he received prompt medical attention, he might still be with us today.
On Monday, commissioners for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) announced that all child care staff will now be required to call 911 when a student has a medical emergency.
The new requirement comes one child too late to save Elijah.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that an incident like this never happens again,” said ACS Commissioner David Hansell.
It is still unknown why the daycare did not follow the child’s individual safety plan, which was already a requirement.
There are almost 400 ACS Early Learning centers across NYC run by community-based organizations like the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services.
We call upon the city and municipalities everywhere to take the next step: ensure that a supply of stock epinephrine is available in all daycare facilities and that all staff are trained to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and administer the drug in an emergency.
We simply cannot maintain the status quo and allow preventable deaths like Elijah’s to continue.