Dr. Richard Sheridan joined the Healthy Start Coalition in 2002. Since then, he has helped the statewide program meet its goals to reduce infant mortality. He has served as a board member of the Hillsborough County Association of Retarded Citizens for five years and as treasurer for three years.
As a neonatal specialist at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa, he cares for babies who weigh only a pound or less. He calls parents of babies in critical care situations after hours. “He goes above and beyond to comfort them,” says Ellen Schaefer, Outcome Coordinator of the NICU at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, “He offers a clear vision for finding the right care for those who need it most, and he has high adrenalin to keep him focused and positive. After many hours of hospital rounds, office and volunteer work, he packs a lot into a day—often with little sleep.”
With Dr. Sheridan’s guidance, the Healthy Start Coalition formed a partnership with women who are in the infirmary at the Falkenberg Road Jail. These women are a high risk group who need intensive intervention services, because they may be addicted to alcohol or addictive drugs.
Dr. Sheridan has served for four years on the Hillsborough County Fetal Infant Mortality Review Committee. He has the very difficult job of reviewing fetal and infant deaths to determine what may have been contributing causes. He also helped launch the Beds 4 Babies campaign in response to the numbers of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and suffocation deaths due to a baby sleeping with an adult. The co-sleeping was often due to socioeconomic issues, because the parent wanted to sleep with the baby. The campaign has funded a portable crib for more than 100 families within the Healthy Start and Healthy Families system of care.