Emily Dotson, B.A., Administrative Assistant with Executive Staff Support for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi (BCBSMS), provides assistance to the Medical Director and the Director of Prescription Drug Management. She recently did an excellent job planning and coordinating the Mississippi CHAMPS Team Meeting and Conference held on September 27 and 28, 2017 on the BCBSMS Campus in Flowood, MS, with the help of the CHAMPS team, especially Rebecca Snow Hartnett!
“Knowing that I’m truly helping someone is what drives me to continue to work hard,” shares Emily, who hopes to enjoy many years at BCBSMS. “What I like most about my job is that it’s something new and different every day!”
BCBSMS is a valuable partner to CHAMPS and a pioneer in its support of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) across the state. Under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Sarah Broom and with Emily’s assistance, BCBSMS, along with CHAMPS, is promoting Baby-Friendly designation to all BCBSMS Network Hospitals that deliver babies in Mississippi. They have also hosted several conferences geared toward empowering hospital staff to achieve Baby-Friendly designation, and are supporting the BFHI as a member of the Advisory Board of the Mississippi Perinatal Quality Collaborative. Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association’s Blue Distinction® Center+ of Excellence for Maternity Care designation, based on national quality criteria and BCBSMS’s Maternity Quality Model, is granted to facilities meeting top quality, evidence-based criteria such as elimination of elective deliveries before 39 weeks and achievement of Baby-Friendly designation.
The September 28th Mississippi CHAMPS Conference for newly enrolled CHAMPS hospitals was one of several conferences that BCBSMS has graciously hosted for us. Thanks to Emily’s efforts, it was well attended, well organized, and enjoyable, with a delicious lunch and snacks generously provided by BCBSMS. Now several more Mississippi hospitals are signed up with CHAMPS and ready to start their Baby-Friendly journeys!
Emily enjoys spending time with her husband of 4 years, Jeff, and their cat, Gigi. In her free time, she loves to read, play piano, draw, and play video games. She and her husband also enjoy participating in many activities at their church.
Thank you, Emily and BCBSMS! CHAMPS greatly appreciates you!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Sherry J. Pitts, RN, MHA, CEO of CHAMPS Hospital Merit Health Woman’s Hospital in Flowood, Mississippi. As an administrative leader, Sherry has been giving her total support and encouragement to staff to achieve Baby-Friendly designation. She is also the person coordinating Baby-Friendly for Merit Health Systems in Mississippi. There are 8 Merit Health birthing facilities in Mississippi and they are all enrolled in CHAMPS. Merit Health Systems is part of the larger Community Health Systems.
“We are a woman's hospital that is committed to giving high quality care in a safe environment to all of our patients,” says Sherry. “We pride ourselves in patients having the best private maternity experience at our hospital. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a perfect fit for our mission because of the evidence related to mother/baby health and Baby-Friendly.”
Like all Baby-Friendly journeys, the journey at Merit Health Woman’s has had its struggles and successes. Sherry says their biggest challenge has been to educate patients earlier in their pregnancies. They have recently made some breakthroughs with this. She is most proud of the teamwork and dedication of all staff at the hospital for achieving higher rooming-in rates, 72% on their last audit.
Sherry shared the story of a patient who called their Lactation Coordinator, Rene Simpson, BSN, IBCLC, and seemed agitated because she heard about some “changes” they had made since her last baby was born 3 years ago. Rene described the process starting with skin-to-skin, breastfeeding education and rooming-in. The patient responded excitedly and said, "that is exactly what I wanted the first time!"
Sherry has been coordinating BFHI monthly status updates via conference call for Merit Health birthing hospitals. She says they have identified the need to provide more specific coaching to bring more assistance to facilities that are struggling, including site visits and staff mentoring.
CEO at Merit Health Woman’s since 2004, Sherry is also active in community organizations. Recently she was recognized as a 2017 Woman of Distinction by the Girls Scouts of Mississippi. Additionally, she is a member of the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red; a member of the Mississippi Affiliate of the American College of Healthcare Executives; and past President of the Central Mississippi Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Congratulations, Sherry, it’s wonderful to have your leadership and support!
Camie Jae Goldhammer, LICSW, MSW, IBCLC (Sisseton-Wahpeton) is a rising star in the field of lactation! Through various unexpected turns, she has allowed her career to beautifully unfold into a unique blend of social worker, lactation consultant, and breastfeeding advocate.
Camie is the Founder and Chair of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington; one of the Founding Mothers and President-elect of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color; and a Consultant with MomsRising, through which she helped to bring paid family medical leave to the state of Washington. Camie is also a CHEER Consultant with our American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) CHAMPS and Mississippi CHAMPS programs, and she recently designed the first-ever Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor (IBC) training. Through these roles, Camie has spoken nationally on the effects of historical trauma on attachment, and breastfeeding and bonding.
“I very much identify and consider my work social work,” Camie shares. “I often say I’m a social worker that does breastfeeding work. I never would have expected my career to go the way it’s gone. It’s been amazing and fun. I go where it takes me.”
Camie’s breastfeeding work began with her own breastfeeding journey. No one in her family had breastfed and she felt somewhat ambivalent. However, in those first moments of skin-to-skin followed by her daughter latching, Camie was changed forever. She started learning about the benefits of breastfeeding and the disparities in Native infant mortality rates, breastfeeding rates and access to lactation support. She began dialoguing with people and started the first Native breastfeeding organization in her state, the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington. In 2013, Camie became the first Native IBCLC in Washington.
These days, Camie travels all over the country speaking about historical trauma’s impact on attachment and breastfeeding, and how breastfeeding can bring bonding and healing. She has spoken at conferences such as the International Lactation Consultant Association, the United States Breastfeeding Coalition, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, the Kellogg First Food Forum, CHAMPS conferences, and more. Camie also spends a good amount of time working for CHAMPS, teaching clinical breastfeeding and helping hospitals become Baby-Friendly.
Camie says, “I love my work for CHAMPS. It’s been a real amazing experience for me in getting hospitals to meet their goals of Baby-Friendly. Developing the IBC training through CHAMPS has been a life goal of mine. I definitely consider it to be my life’s work. I’m grateful for the support to have been able to do it.”
There are 3 versions of Camie’s course: a 45-hour course geared towards those that self-identify as Indigenous (the IBC course); a 20-hour course for health practitioners serving Native populations and meeting Baby-Friendly requirements; and a 5-hour in-person training for health practitioners serving Native populations and meeting Baby-Friendly requirements. Read the press release for the exciting launch of the first IBC course in Barrow, Alaska!
In all her spare time, Camie spends one day a week volunteering her IBCLC skills at Rainier Valley Community Clinic’s lactation drop-in groups, where she also mentors aspiring lactation consultants free of charge. It’s no surprise Camie’s amazing work has garnered media attention. Check out these beautifully written articles from South Seattle Emerald and KUOW.org.
Congratulations, Camie, it’s wonderful to have you on our team!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each week, we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).