Congratulations to the Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist for opening the first human milk bank in the state of Louisiana! Louisiana is now the 22nd state in the United States to have a Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)-accredited human milk bank. The milk bank, which opened in March 2018, operates out of Ochsner Baptist Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Baby-Friendly-designated hospital which fully supports breastfeeding. Ochsner Baptist was part of the first wave of CHEER’s Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) South program during 2014-2017, and became Baby-Friendly designated on October 31, 2017. Ochsner Baptist also has a level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and understands the critical importance of donated human milk for fragile preterm babies when a mother’s own milk is unavailable.
Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital South Sunflower County Hospital in Indianola, Mississippi, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on March 8, 2018! South Sunflower is a smaller hospital with around 250-300 births per year. They have been part of CHAMPS since fall 2014, and began their Baby-Friendly journey in fall 2015.
Betsy Dawson, FNP-C, CHAMPS Team Lead and Family Nurse Practitioner at South Sunflower, says it feels “FANTASTIC!!” to be Baby-Friendly. “We are very proud of our hospital and clinic for implementing this,” she says. “Thank you to my Baby-Friendly taskforce!! Without them I could not have done this.”
When Betsy was CHEER Champion of the Week in 2017, she shared the challenges and exciting changes that were part of South Sunflower’s Baby-Friendly journey. She cited being able to help those mothers who want to breastfeed, but in the past, have not received the support or education to do so, as the most exciting change. After South Sunflower became Baby-Friendly designated, Betsy shared an inspiring patient story illustrating this change:
“We had a mom who did not receive much help with nursing with her first. She at first said she didn't want to breastfeed, then wanted to try. From the first latch on she was hooked. The baby just turned 2 and she just stopped nursing!!! She will sit in our lobby and talk to moms about the benefits of breastfeeding and share her experience.”
What's Betsy’s advice for other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly? “AUDITS!! These are a great way to see how well your staff is educating and following through,” she says.
Congratulations, South Sunflower! We are very proud of you!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Merit Health hospital system (MHHS), for their outstanding progress towards seeking Baby-Friendly designation for their 8 birthing facilities in Mississippi! Each of these CHAMPS facilities is doing excellent work incorporating Baby-Friendly changes and supporting each other along the way. They are a wonderful example of what an organized effort can do!
CHEER spoke with Sherry Pitts, RN, MHA, CEO of Merit Health Woman’s Hospital and Rene Simpson, BSN, IBCLC, Lactation Coordinator and CHAMPS Team Lead at Merit Health Woman’s Hospital. Both women have been active in helping MHHS navigate the Baby-Friendly pathway, Sherry as an administrative leader who oversees the process and Rene as the Baby-Friendly lead at Woman’s Hospital. Rene also attended a CHAMPS “Train the Trainer” training, which enables her to provide the Baby-Friendly-required, clinical competency training to MHHS staff.
Sherry and Rene identified their system-wide monthly conference calls as a key strategy in helping MHHS become Baby-Friendly. Present on these calls are the CHAMPS Team Leaders from each hospital; some Chief Nursing Officers; CHEER Project Director Laura Burnham, MPH; mother-baby subject matter experts from Community Health Systems, an umbrella system over MHHS; and Sherry, who leads the calls. For the agenda, hospitals share successes and gain support around challenges. They also identify areas where they desire more education, and Laura expands on that topic in the following month’s call.
“To be on the monthly calls and support each other has been a good learning experience for all of us. It’s been a good team effort. Expanding on various topics during the calls is also going well. Rooming-in was one topic that was very helpful to everyone,” says Sherry.
Rene agrees that the monthly calls are a key time for support. “One hospital might be working on skin-to-skin, another hospital on rooming-in,” she says. “It’s good to communicate with each other.”
In between calls, hospitals update a shared “Baby-Friendly Designation Milestone Tracker,” e-mail each other on questions, and interact with CHAMPS staff. Sherry also shares the Tracker with MHHS President & CEO, Steve Dobbs, FACHE at their meetings every other week. Having this ongoing, “interactive conversation” between hospitals and with administration has allowed this project to succeed, says Sherry.
Another key ingredient to success that Sherry and Rene noted is having people who feel responsible for making Baby-Friendly happen. For example, it has been essential to have someone in Sherry’s role who oversees the process and has accountability over it. It has also been essential to have people in Rene’s role who feel responsible for Baby-Friendly within each hospital.
It is a joyful celebration when any hospital goes Baby-Friendly. When an entire system goes Baby-Friendly, that joy is multiplied because of the impact it will have on that many more mothers and babies. Congratulations, MHHS, for the impressive strides you are making to accomplish that!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is the Silent Warriors Coalition, a group of community members dedicated to fighting drug and alcohol abuse in Blackfeet Nation and creating resources for these addictions and their ensuing problems of suicide, abuse (domestic, elder, sexual, child), and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). They were nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for their great work, including their invaluable participation on the Opioid Prevention Taskforce (OPT) in Blackfeet.
CHEER facilitates the OPT, which is working towards establishing a medication assisted therapy (MAT) clinic on the Blackfeet Reservation. The Blackfeet Tribe, Tribal Health, the Indian Health Service Blackfeet Community Hospital, the Silent Warriors, and many other community groups, with CHEER’s technical assistance, aim to launch the clinic in the coming year at the Southern Peigan Health Center in Browning, Montana. Initially, the MAT clinic will be for mothers with opiate addictions, but eventually plans to expand services to a larger population.
Blackfeet Tribal members established the Silent Warriors Coalition in 2014 in response to the high rate of drug and alcohol abuse in Blackfeet Nation and in response to one family’s personal crisis. When Diana Burd’s great-nephew was born in 2014 with NAS, she and her family discovered the lack of resources to help his mother and those struggling with drug addiction in Blackfeet. The lack of resources is especially alarming considering that, according to the 2017 Blackfeet Community Health Assessment, half the babies born on the Blackfeet Reservation were exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.
“There was no detox for drug addiction, no services, nothing for drugs,” says Diana, one of the founding members and Secretary-board member for the Silent Warriors Coalition. “There was an alcohol program, but it did not work to throw a drug addiction program in there. We needed a way to connect with the people who are suffering in the community and to try to help support families who need the help but are ashamed, afraid, or don’t know where to go to get help.”
Shortly after their great-nephew was born, Diana’s sister posted a comment on Facebook about the drug abuse crisis and the need to do something about it. A couple former drug dealers who are now recovered responded to the Facebook post saying they wanted to help. From there began the Silent Warriors Coalition, a name suggested by one of the former drug dealers who had known someone in prison who broke into a drug dealer’s house and flushed his stash of drugs down the toilet. In like fashion, the Silent Warriors envisioned fighting the drug abuse crisis “silently,” not by confronting drug dealers or breaking into their homes, but by quietly praying on the corners of their homes. They also envisioned breaking the silence around the drug abuse crisis within their community.
With few previously established services in place, the Silent Warriors have their work cut out for them. The Silent Warriors are involved with several initiatives to fight drug abuse and establish resources. Those initiatives include the MAT clinic; a transitional home for people to transition off drugs led by Reverend Calvin Hill (opening in the future); a school-based Community Health Representative program to educate youth about drugs and cultural trauma (many students end up calling the Silent Warriors for help for their parents who are addicted); a “Baskets for Babies” program to meet the physical needs of babies born with NAS and their families; videos to educate about the drug abuse crisis in Blackfeet made with SAMHSA grants (check out Diana’s video about her great-nephew born with NAS); interfaith prayer and drum walks in the neighborhoods of known drug dealers; and a survey for community members to share ideas about what they think could help with the drug abuse crisis. They are also working to change the laws within their community to support recovery, for example to court order people into treatment.
“The drug abuse crisis in Blackfeet is horrible. This is needed,” says Diana. “The Silent Warriors are promoting healing and bringing us back to our roots, to the people we are. We want to see our people healed. We have a lot of great things in our community. We want people to open their eyes and to see those things.”
For more information, read this article about opiate addictions in Blackfeet.
Congratulations, Silent Warriors Coalition; CHEER applauds your work and wishes you the best!
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).