This week’s Champion of the week is a special young woman living in Athens, Greece. “Elise” (her name has been changed to protect her confidentiality) is a refugee living in an Athens shelter, with her husband and baby. The family sought refuge in Greece to escape the ongoing war in their African homeland. Elise has exclusively breastfed except for a short period when she had to take a certain medication, and at that time, she timed feedings around her medication, to fit in the maximum number of breastfeeds possible.
Not only is Elise dedicated to breastfeeding, but her willingness to share and help her fellow residents at the shelter has dramatically impacted her peers. Right now, 83% of all African women at the shelter are exclusively breastfeeding (compared to 40% among women from other regions of the world), in large part because Elise has been able to help them in their native language from the moment their babies were born.
CHEERing, CHEER’s sister organization in Greece which focuses on the current humanitarian refugee crisis, visits the shelter weekly to weigh and measure all the babies, and offer additional nutrition support. All the mothers tell us that they are breastfeeding because it is healthiest for their babies, and because Elise has helped and encouraged them. CHEERing applauds Elise for her commitment to breastfeeding and to helping other women in the shelter. This is a shining example of the effectiveness of peer-based breastfeeding support.
Thanks to a grant from Help Refugees, CHEERing now has some funds to work one on one with Elise to offer her additional training, support and strategies to promote breastfeeding in her community going forward.
Congratulations to Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, Mississippi, for becoming the 13th hospital in Mississippi to attain Baby-Friendly Designation on September 11, 2019. Anderson has approximately 1200 births per year with a level III NICU. They began their Baby-Friendly journey in 2015, and they are happy to have become one of the 580 designated hospitals in the country.
“It was a long 4-year journey, but the journey was worth the success!” states Lindsey, RN-BSN, CLC, and Baby-Friendly Team Lead at Anderson. “We are excited to see the product of our hard work for generations to come, as Mississippi’s breastfeeding rates and maternity/health outcomes continue to improve.”
Anderson’s Baby-Friendly journey may have started with challenges, including a lack of buy-in from some physicians and other team members, but with support and encouragement from the CEO and administration, the team persisted and achieved their goal. “I have loved hearing the same seasoned nurses, who were reluctant at first, say, ‘I can’t imagine not doing things this way now,’” Lindsey shares.
Pursuing Baby-Friendly designation has changed the way maternity services are delivered at Anderson. The hospital reports that mothers are coming in more educated and excited about Baby-Friendly, families are constantly expressing their love for skin-to-skin and rooming-in, and the medical center’s exclusive breastfeeding rates are steadily improving. Lindsey would like to express gratitude to Anderson’s amazing Baby-Friendly core team, her co-leads (Reba Lee, IBCLC, and Heather Lewis) and the CHAMPS team for the major role they played in the medical center’s success.
Now that they are designated, the team intends to celebrate and then work hard to maintain the highest level of evidence-based maternity care. “This is a huge success, and we are excited to share our news, “says Lindsey. “However, healthcare is constantly changing and this is only the beginning of our journey to improve maternity care for our patients.”
Congratulations Anderson, we are very happy for you!
Congratulations to CHAMPS Hospital Merit Health Madison in Canton, Mississippi, for becoming Baby-Friendly on September 4, 2019! Merit Health Madison Hospital is a 35,000 square foot facility with a maternity department that has approximately 300 births per year.
Merit Madison began their Baby-Friendly journey in 2016. “It feels wonderful to have achieved the designation of Baby Friendly, it has been a long road and we are so excited to be Baby Friendly!" shares Tracy Sims, RN, Clinical Coordinator of the Newborn Nursery and CHAMPS Team Lead for the hospital’s Baby-Friendly initiative. “When I attended the first conference and was introduced to the 10 steps, I was overwhelmed to say the least“ she says, but looking back, Tracy cannot imagine things any other way. The patients love the changes and the staff work collectively to educate and support moms with breastfeeding.
For the Merit Health Madison team, learning how to implement the ten steps, safely conduct skin to skin, and transition baby in the mother’s room were the most challenging aspects of their journey towards designation. “It was so new and foreign, and I could not envision it,” Tracy says. The team’s perspective changed when they began scoring high on their audits; they realized that they were doing well with the changes they had made and the goal of becoming designated seemed achievable. Tracy describes how she felt the first time she witnessed a baby searching for her mother’s milk. “This was a high point for me personally, I was amazed!” she shares.
Tracy credits some of their success to the support they had from the start. Being part of the Merit Health Team, MH Madison was fortunate in that they did not have to go through the journey alone. Some of the individuals and organizations who provided the much need support include: Sherri Pitts, CEO at Merit Health Woman’s, who facilitates system wide feedback and communication among the Merit Health system hospitals; CHAMPS which provides avenues for participating hospitals to exchange ideas about what works and ways to improve; Rene Simpson from Merit Woman’s and Jean Dunn from Merit River Oaks, who provided tremendous help and did much of the initial work on hospital policy changes; CHAMPS coach, Rebecca Knapp, who provided constant support; Andrea Borda and Jenny Zorn from W.I.C, who educated moms and provided support in the postpartum unit; Hospital Administrators, Tim Lolly, Carmen Alexander, and Brit Phelps, who were dedicated to becoming designated from the start and did everything possible to support the unit and task force.
Now that they are Baby-Friendly designated, the team is determined not to relent. They intend to continue to focus on helping moms to breastfeed exclusively during their hospital stay.
Congratulations Merit Health Madison, we are very proud of you!
Though her role can be challenging, Lacey finds it very rewarding because she gets to make policy changes within the hospital that nurses can benefit from.
Having worked at Merit River Region since 2005, Lacey witnessed the initiation of Baby Friendly at the hospital. She first served as a Unit Clerk and then as a bedside nurse in the Labor and Delivery department for 10 years, an experience she describes as the “greatest passion” of her life. When she moved into her leadership role 4 years ago, she prioritized changing the perceptions of staff about Baby Friendly through education. She focused on helping the staff to understand what being BF designated would mean for practice and for the patients. She describes this as “one of the hardest yet most rewarding hurdles” she had to overcome in her role.
Lacey is motivated by her amazing patients and dedicated organization who make her job worth it. Seeing processes and changes that she helped develop translated into progressive reality makes her beam with pride for her team. She is inspired by the fact that she gets to advocate for both her patients and bedside staff through leadership.
In addition to her role at MHRR, Lacey has been an active member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) and Mississippi Nurses Association (MNA). When she’s not focusing on changing the culture in her community, she is enjoying time spent with her husband and daughter. She is also actively involved with the hospital’s community outreach efforts and works collaboratively with other organizations like United Way and WIC to support parents and families.
Congratulations Lacey! We appreciate you and wish you the best with everything.
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).