Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for becoming a milk depot for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi! The hospital and milk bank celebrated the depot’s opening with a festive ribbon-cutting event at Merit Health River Region on June 20, 2018. The event was a success and well attended by hospital staff and administration, the Mother’s Milk Bank staff and board, WIC, and community members!
“Becoming a milk depot is incredibly exciting for me and the team here at Merit Health River Region,” says CHAMPS Team Lead & Director of Women’s Services Lacey Griffith, RN. “This is an important step for us because as we move closer to Baby-Friendly Designation we have noticed that more and more moms are breastfeeding and becoming educated about human milk donation. We continue to educate ourselves on the importance of human milk and breastfeeding and realize the impact of having the resources and support available for lactating moms within our community. We are very proud to be able to provide this service.”
Mothers in Vicksburg and the surrounding areas who meet donor requirements will now be able to deliver donated milk to Merit Health River Region, who will store the milk in a deep freezer before shipping it to the Mothers’ Milk Bank in Flowood. The Mothers’ Milk Bank will then pasteurize the milk, analyze it for calorie count and protein levels, and culture the milk to insure sterility. If all these tests are passed, it is dispensed by purchase order to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in Mississippi which the Mothers’ Milk Bank serves.
“I am thrilled that Merit Health River Region is partnering with us to make milk donation easier for our donor mothers in Vicksburg and surrounding areas,” says Rebecca Saenz, MD, IBCLC, FABM, Medical Co-Director and Board President of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi. “I would love to have depots in every town or city in the state! Depot sites make donating milk much more convenient for the moms who are so generous to share their extra milk with us. Hopefully, this will increase the amount of milk that is donated, as it has in our other depot communities. The presence of a depot site in a community also raises awareness of milk donation, and underscores the importance of breastfeeding in general.”
Including Merit Health River Region, there are now 8 milk depots in Mississippi: North MS Medical Center (Tupelo), Mom 2 Be (Columbus), the Lactation Station (Oxford), Anderson Regional Medical Center (Meridian), Forrest General Hospital (Hattiesburg), Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, the Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center (Pass Christian), and Merit Health River Region (Vicksburg). In addition, donor mothers in the Jackson area can drop their milk off at the Mothers’ Milk Bank’s main location in Flowood.
To become a milk depot is not difficult. A site must simply have a deep freezer and the ability to secure it, and personnel who agree to be responsible for recording the temperature, logging in milk that is brought in, then shipping it to the Mothers’ Milk Bank.
Why is donated human milk important especially for Mississippi?
“Mississippi continues to have one of the highest prematurity rates in the nation, at 17% (2016, MSDH website),” says Saenz. “Many of these babies' mothers are unable to pump enough of their own milk for medical reasons, so donated human milk fills that gap. Having a human milk diet has been shown to reduce infections in the NICUs, particularly the devastating ones such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Babies being fed human milk also tolerate feedings better, due to easier digestability, so advance feedings faster. Ultimately, they are often able to go home sooner.”
Well done, Merit Health River Region; CHAMPS is excited for you!
Interested in donating milk or becoming a depot site? Visit the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi’s website or call them at 601-939-5504.
Congratulations to Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett in Bartlett, Tennessee, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on June 5, 2018! Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett was part of the first wave of the CHAMPS South program, during 2015 to 2017. It is a smaller hospital with approximately 450 births per year and a level II neonatal intensive care unit.
“It feels amazing to be Baby-Friendly,” says CHAMPS Team Lead Christy Brooks, RN, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant and OB Manager. “Our staff and administration have worked really hard. Patients love the additional support they receive during their stay. For example, the patients receive education and support with breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and resources for home. It’s been a learning experience and wonderful transition.”
Saint Francis began their Baby-Friendly journey in 2015, and at the beginning, says Christy, getting nurses and physicians to buy-in to the changes was a challenge. However, now many of the staff members who were once reluctant have changed their minds and are “really enjoying” the Baby-Friendly practices. Exclusive breastfeeding rates during the hospital stay also went from 12% in 2015 to 53% in 2017, reports Christy.
According to Christy, one of the most rewarding changes has been skin-to-skin, in particular with mothers who are initially not interested in skin-to-skin or breastfeeding. Some of these mothers, once they try skin-to-skin, love it and even try breastfeeding once they see their babies moving around and initiating it.
“I had a patient not too long ago who came in and said, ‘No, I don’t want skin-to-skin,’” shares Christy. “However, after education and support, she held her baby skin-to-skin for over an hour. She loved the experience! To see these parents together with their babies brings tears to my eyes.”
Christy’s main advice to other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly is to “get a lot of support from your administration.” She says the administration at Saint Francis supported them from “day one” and having that support was crucial.
“For success, involve nursing staff and patients in your process changes,” Christy says. “Receive feedback and make recommended changes. The goal is to provide the patient and family the education and support so they can make an informed decision on how they want to care for their newborn.”
Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett would like to give the CHAMPS team a special thank you.
“Together, with the CHAMPS team’s support and guidance, we were able to achieve our goal of Baby-Friendly,” Christy says.
Well done, Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett; we are very proud of you!
Congratulations to Mayor Toby Barker, MS, EMHL, Mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for his leadership in establishing mothering rooms in Hattiesburg’s city facilities! These mothering rooms will allow staff members and citizens to have a private, quiet place to nurse or pump. They will include access to electricity, a comfortable chair and be child-friendly. If feasible for the facility, the room will also be in close proximity to a refrigerator and a bathroom. For 2018, Mayor Barker’s vision is to outfit one room per quarter throughout city facilities. For 2019, he is looking at how he can accommodate Hattiesburg’s park systems.
“I believe success begins at the earliest stages of life,” Mayor Barker shares. “If we can teach and empower mothers to engage in everyday practices that are evidence based and healthy, I believe we can see a culture change in regards to public health.”
When Mayor Barker took office in July of 2017, the Mayoral Health Council, comprised of several representatives from healthcare and community organizations, had been established by the previous mayor. Mayor Barker then mobilized this group to implement several initiatives, including the mothering room initiative.
“When we came into office, I met with the council members to create a vision that had a direct impact on our community in a measurable way. I asked them to survey all our city facilities (staff offices, community centers and parks) and to identify where we could move the needle in the terms of a place for mothers to nurse or pump while out at a ballgame, at a neighborhood event or at any one of our many community centers. They put together several items of research that looked at best practices for dedicated nursing rooms in public spaces and a building-by-building assessment of what we could do, realistically,” he says.
Prior to his election as mayor, Mayor Barker served in the Mississippi Legislature for 10 years, and early childhood education, infant mortality, food deserts and breastfeeding were policy areas in which he worked.
“When I became mayor, it gave me a platform to implement some of these strategies directly,” he says.
Mayor Barker’s vision for Hattiesburg is nothing short of excellence: “In every facet - whether economic growth, public health, education or culture - we want Hattiesburg to become a premier city in the Gulf South. We want these things for every part of our city. While a few areas in Hattiesburg are growing rapidly, we still have neighborhoods with pockets of poverty and poor health outcomes.”
What is Mayor Barker’s personal motivation for the mothering room initiative?
He shares: “I have a daughter...and a son on the way. I want the very best for them. I want them to be healthy and educated and to live a better life than me. As I feel the weight of that desire for their well-being, I believe every parent in Hattiesburg wants the same things for their children. If we can help build parenting skillsets that equip men and women to do their best, I believe we’ll see long-lasting and systemic change.”
Thank you for your inspiring leadership, Mayor Barker; may others follow your example!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week, Mike Geboe, MA, LAC, MAC, SAP, has been working for CHEER as a Consultant for the past year. Based in Montana, Mike has done an excellent job working in the areas of breastfeeding promotion, drug & alcohol prevention, and Native wellness. He is half Chippewa Cree and half Northern Arapaho.
Mike says the most exciting part about his work for CHEER is “the breastfeeding initiative and outreach in the Rocky Boy community from a male perspective.”
In a short amount of time, Mike has done a lot to move the breastfeeding initiative forward on Rocky Boy’s Reservation with the Chippewa Cree People. He has organized 5 community presentations focused on breastfeeding awareness; breastfeeding policies in the tribal workplace; information about Certified Lactation Consultants and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants; and Neiyoskwew (Cree Women) breastfeeding testimony. He also spearheaded a Proclamation accepted by the Chippewa Cree Tribal Council declaring August 2017 as Chippewa Cree Breastfeeding Month. He is promoting a breastfeeding in the workplace policy which is currently being reviewed by the Tribe’s Policy and Procedure Review Team. Mike has been talking with key stakeholders about breastfeeding promotion and, along with the Chippewa Cree Wellness Coalition, started a Chippewa Cree Breastfeeding Taskforce.
In addition to his breastfeeding work on Rocky Boy’s, Mike has provided technical assistance for the Methamphetamine/Suicide Prevention Initiative and Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative for the Indian Health Service in the Billings Area Office. He is also involved with the Community Health Assessment on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Tribe project on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. CHEER works on contracts providing technical assistance for these various projects.
Prior to working for CHEER, Mike held various positions related to public health. He was the Executive Director of the Office of Victim Services for the Chippewa Cree Tribe; the Project Coordinator for a HIV Prevention SAMHSA Grant at Stone Child College; a Clinical Supervisor/Addiction Counselor for the White Sky Hope Center for the Rocky Boy Health Board; and a Psychology Course instructor at Stone Child College. He also worked as a School Psychologist at the Arlee School System in Arlee, Montana. He holds current licensure as a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in the state of Montana, a Master Addiction Counselor (MAC), and a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
What personally motivates Mike to do the work he does? “Role models who have had an impact in my life,” he says. “I credit my family and extended family for being supportive in my endeavors.”
Congratulations, Mike! It’s great to be working with you!
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).