Amanda Sterling, RN, BSN, IBCLC is a Lactation Consultant and CHAMPS Team Leader at CHAMPS hospital Merit Health Biloxi in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for all her hard work and the excellent job she is doing leading the Baby-Friendly journey at Merit Health Biloxi!
“I truly believe that Baby-Friendly is what is best for all moms and babies,” says Amanda. “I want them all to receive quality, evidence-based care. I loved my personal breastfeeding experience with both of my children, and I enjoy helping others meet their own breastfeeding goals through my expertise and experience.”
Amanda has been a nurse for 14 years and an IBCLC for 7. As the only IBCLC at Merit Health Biloxi and as CHAMPS Team Leader, she does rounds on all patients; coordinates and teaches childbirth classes; leads task force meetings; participates on all corporate Baby-Friendly and CHAMPs calls; collects Baby-Friendly data via chart audits and patient interviews; submits those results monthly and posts graphs for staff monthly; participates in community outreach; provides staff education and training regarding lactation/Baby-Friendly; and organizes and keeps all Baby-Friendly materials up-to-date.
"Amanda has worked really hard to keep Merit Health Biloxi’s Baby-Friendly journey moving forward,” shares Merit Health Biloxi’s CHAMPS coach Becky Knapp, RN, MPH. “Things I remember from a site visit last year are Amanda's organization and the sweet displays she creates to keep staff up-to-date on the hospital's progress, current education, and data. She carries a big work load and does her work so well. She's incredible.”
Although Merit Health Biloxi’s Baby-Friendly journey has not always been easy, Amanda is seeing positive results. Over the last few years, she says their breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity rates, as well as their skin-to-skin and rooming-rates have dramatically increased. And staff are starting to change their practice from “the way things have always been done” to the new Baby-Friendly model of care.
What strategies have worked well for Amanda to keep the Baby-Friendly journey moving along?
“Staying involved with CHAMPS and our corporate team helps keep me on track,” she says. “I try listen to staff and take their concerns into consideration. I try to keep staff motivated and involved by posting a ‘Baby-Friendly Question of the Week,’ monthly data charts on our progress, and by giving the staff ‘Report Cards’ to help them know the areas where they need to improve individually. I have made breast cookies and cupcakes, and given candy to staff for World Breastfeeding Week and annual competencies to help them remember this is a positive thing for our patients. I routinely design bulletin boards for our staff, patients and visitors to educate them about different elements of the Ten Steps in a creative and fun way.”
Outside from work, Amanda is the founder and current president of the South Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition, and a volunteer with March of Dimes, Girl Scouts and her children’s school PTA.
Congratulations, Amanda! CHAMPS appreciates all that you do!
This week’s CHEER Champions of the Week are two of our newest team members: Paige Beliveau, MA, Research Assistant, and Cara Safon, MPH, Research Project Manager. Paige joined CHEER in June 2018 and Cara in October 2018. CHEER is thrilled to have hired Paige and Cara, who are doing fantastic work for us and advancing the CHAMPS initiative in Mississippi. Together, they also did an excellent job managing CHEER’s office while two of our project directors were out on maternity leave.
As Research Assistant, Paige’s role involves managing and coordinating data for the Mississippi CHAMPS project. This includes collecting and reviewing hospital data, and keeping track of hospitals’ Pathway progress and communicating with their respective coaches.
“I enjoy watching our hospitals make progress and reach their goals, as well as seeing how this is collectively changing obstetric and maternal care practices across the state,” shares Paige. “Because I spend so much time looking at data, I can really see how much of a difference their work has made over time. At CHAMPS, we’ve started turning our attention towards promoting these practices safely, and I’m very excited to see where that work takes us in the future.”
Prior to working at CHEER, Paige was a graduate student at Roger Williams University, where she earned a master’s degree in forensic psychology. There, she studied racial disparities in the criminal justice system and how changes to the Massachusetts Sentencing Guidelines seem to reduce these disparities. The commonality between this research and what she does now is that at CHEER, she is also evaluating policies that aim to promote racial and social equity. Outside of work, Paige loves to exercise, cook, and ride horses.
Cara’s job as Research Project Manager involves helping to lead research efforts related to the sustainability of Mississippi CHAMPS. She is also the coach for one hospital, and she co-leads website and social media development for CHEER and CHAMPS.
“There is so much to learn about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and the Ten Steps,” says Cara. “I enjoy seeing hospitals test their progress toward quality improvement by using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, and I also love working with Mississippi CHAMPS' community partners. I'm excited about the future and potential policy impact of the very important work being done to improve breastfeeding and maternity care where it is truly needed.”
Cara has studied and worked in the public health field since she was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She has a master’s in public health degree from Yale, where she conducted a mixed-methods study about infant feeding as part of her thesis work. After her master’s, Cara worked in Mexico City as a research associate on a primary study intended to lay the foundation for the standardization of measuring quality of maternity care in Mexico. Immediately prior to working for CHEER, Cara worked at Yale in her master’s thesis advisor’s lab, Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly. Cara is a trainee member with the International Society for Human Milk and Lactation. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Boston, being outside, reading, and cooking.
Congratulations, Paige and Cara, it’s great to have you on our team!
Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital, Baptist Memorial Hospital – Union County (BMH-UC), for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on February 19, 2019! BMH-UC has approximately 950-1,000 births per year and a level II NICU. They offer free childbirth and breastfeeding classes once a month and free follow-up lactation support as needed. There are now 11 Baby-Friendly facilities in Mississippi; that’s 25% of all birthing facilities in the state!
“Obtaining this prestigious designation has been a whole hospital effort,” say CHAMPS Team Leaders Cheryl Hodges, BSN, RN, Women’s Center Manager; and Anne Smith, BS, CLPN, IBCLC, Lactation Specialist. “Our main goal has been to have the best outcomes for our mothers and babies. We are all proud of the hard work of our staff in accomplishing this goal. We feel like we have accomplished what we set out to do, and now we look forward to maintaining this designation so we can continue to provide quality mother-baby-centered care to our community.”
BMH-UC’s Baby-Friendly journey began in January 2016 when they entered the Discovery phase. Like many hospitals on the Baby-Friendly journey, they went through a culture change, which involved everyone shifting their thinking and ways of providing care to mothers and babies. These changes impacted the Labor and Delivery and Nursery nurses the most.
“Today, these nurses love how they have evolved in their care practices with Baby-Friendly,” comment Cheryl and Anne. “They see the difference first-hand how these changes have improved maternal-fetal outcomes and the change in behaviors of a mother/baby couplet after delivery as well as in the postpartum period.”
Mothers also love the Baby-Friendly changes at BMH-UC. Cheryl and Anne say that many mothers that delivered both before and after Baby-Friendly practices were put into place have commented on how wonderful their birthing experience is now. They especially love skin-to-skin and rooming-in versus having their babies taken away to the nursery. Many mothers have also commented on how wonderful and supportive the staff has been with breastfeeding.
Cheryl and Anne would like to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions: Jacque Craig, RN, Head Nurse; Randy White, MSN, RN, CNO; Walter Grace, CEO/Administrator; Nancy Kidd, Marketing Director, the hospital managers, the Surgery manager and team, their nursing staff, their physicians, and their OB/GYN offices for being open to handing out Baby-Friendly and breastfeeding education to their pregnant mothers even though they are not hospital-affiliated.
What is Cheryl and Anne’s advice to other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly?
“Keep pushing through. If you hit a wall, make a detour and keep going; you will get there! It can feel overwhelming at times, but the journey is worth it!”
We applaud BMH-UC’s accomplishment and celebrate with them!
Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital, King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Brookhaven, Mississippi, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on February 11, 2019! KDMC has approximately 730 births per year and a level 2B Stabilization Nursery and Neonatal Observation Unit. They have an innovative childbirth education program called “Mommy University,” which features exclusive 1 on 1 education with new moms and their families on equipment, labor experiences, anesthesia, newborn and postpartum care after discharge, and most importantly breastfeeding, immediate skin-to-skin and rooming-in.
“Becoming Baby-Friendly was a complete culture change for our organization,” shares Angie Williamson, RNC, BSN, Maternal-Child Director and CHAMPS Team Lead at KDMC. “Patients really had to be educated on the benefits of breastfeeding and the need for rooming-in. Immediate skin-to-skin following vaginal delivery was the easiest task for us to master. Skin-to-skin following cesarean section was more difficult because pediatricians had to wait to examine the baby, and anesthesia personnel were not thrilled about having their space violated. The nursery staff members also had to learn that there was not going to be a ‘newborn nursery’ any longer and routine procedures were now to be done in the mother’s room. Pediatricians not having all the newborns gathered into the nursery every morning for rounding was also a huge endeavor.”
All these changes were worth it, though, especially now that Angie and her staff are seeing the difference Baby-Friendly is making for maternity services at KDMC. Angie says one of the biggest benefits is staff involvement. With the babies rooming-in with their mothers, the staff now have more time in the rooms for baths, vital signs, routine procedures, and education not only with mothers but entire families. Having more people educated in well-baby care leaves less room for error, Angie says.
Angie would like to thank her entire staff for their hard work throughout the Baby-Friendly journey. She would like to especially recognize Lou Ann Wall, RN, IBCLC, for her tireless efforts in educating and encouraging staff, working endless hours within the hospital and on-call with breastfeeding mothers, starting the first KDMC breastfeeding support group and merging that group into the first Baby Café Cluster in Mississippi, and keeping everyone enthusiastic about breastfeeding and the importance of those first few hours on its success.
“Our focus moving forward since Designation is continuing to improve our breastfeeding rates and keeping all staff and physicians educated and engaged,” says Angie. “We would like to thank the CHAMPS team for all their help along the way. We definitely would not be Baby-Friendly designated without these wonderful ladies’ help and encouragement!”
Well done, KDMC! We are thrilled about your wonderful accomplishment and what it means for mothers and babies in your care!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), 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).