Elsie J. Joe, MPA is a Health System Specialist and Area Project Officer for the Methamphetamine/Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) through the Indian Health Service (IHS) Department of Behavioral Health for the Navajo Area. She recently moved to New Mexico from Montana, where she held the same position for the IHS Billings Area Office. During her 1.5 years in Montana, she did a great job working with the tribes on these initiatives and administering these projects.
Elsie is of Native American descent, affiliated with the Dine' Tribe from Shiprock, New Mexico. Her clans are Bit'ahnii (Folded Arms or Within the Folds) Clan, born for the Na nesh t'ezhi Ashi, ii (Zuni Salt) Clan. Her maternal grandfather's clan is Oze'e' T'aah chiinii (Red Forehead of Polacca/Second Mesa Hopi). Her paternal grandfather's clan is Kin ya a'hnii (Towering House) Clan.
During her time in Billings, Elsie provided programmatic technical assistance to all the Montana/Wyoming tribes with MSPI, Generation Indigenous (GEN-I) and DVPI federally funded projects. Elsie and CHEER worked closely to integrate the tribal and federal aspects of the MSPI/DVPI programs. CHEER works on contract with the Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center to provide technical assistance to Billings Area tribes with MSPI/DVPI programs, especially around evaluation and local data collection.
“The tribal MSPI/DVPI and GEN-I project staff, including the tribal health staff and community members express they are very concerned about the prominent and, in some cases, epidemic proportion of disengagement with their respective cultural values, and thus many of their tribal members have turned to drug abuse and domestic violence or self-harm,” comments Elsie.
Together with IHS, these staff members are striving to bring education, prevention, intervention, and postvention to these afflictions. The tribes are also promoting a healthier lifestyle by developing tribal appropriate community activities with the aim of “realigning cultural values and elders’ teachings back to the generations and to those that have lost contact with their identities,” Elsie says. “Due to the elders' concerted efforts and seeing the younger generations working together is a joy and gives me hope for the future of the tribes, not just in Montana or Wyoming but across all Nations.”
Elsie recently moved back to her home community of Bit'ahnii Acres, in Shiprock, New Mexico to continue her work as a MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI Area Project Officer for the Navajo Area. She will miss Montana and Wyoming's tribal MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI project staff, community members, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders, Rocky Mountain Epidemiology Center and the Billings Area Office staff and their many partners.
Elsie shares, “I have developed a kinship with the Montana/Wyoming Tribes and will miss them dearly but I know they will continue the process of healing…I look forward to my continued work and new horizons with the Navajo Area MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI projects and IHS Headquarters. I am excited to be close to my three children, five grandchildren, siblings, my mom and numerous relatives.”
Thank you for all your dedicated work, Elsie! We will miss you and wish you the best!
Congratulations to Ochsner Baptist in New Orleans, Louisiana for achieving Baby-Friendly designation on October 31, 2017! Ochsner Baptist was part of the first wave of the CHAMPS South program during 2014-2017, along with several other Ochsner Health System hospitals in Louisiana. There are now 3 Baby-Friendly Ochsner hospitals in Louisiana with more on the way!
“It feels wonderful to be Baby-Friendly,” shares Cindy Boudreaux, MS, APRN, IBCLC, Lactation Supervisor and CHAMPS Team Lead at Ochsner Baptist. “It’s a great feeling to achieve the designation because it validated for us that we are providing the best care to all our moms and babies. Our staff—nurses and physicians—feel very accomplished and proud.”
Ochsner Baptist is a large, teaching hospital with approximately 2,997 births per year. They have a level 4 NICU which receives maternal and neonatal transports and provides care to the most fragile mothers and babies in their region. As Cindy says, between their NICU population, nursing students, and medical residents, Ochsner Baptist is a busy place with “a lot of people coming and going.” It is exciting that they will now be extending the Baby-Friendly knowledge-base and practices to their students and all their patients, including their NICU patients. Simultaneously, Ochsner Baptist will be opening Louisiana’s first donor breast milk bank, the Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist, in the coming months!
A 2014 CHAMPS regional conference, in particular speaker Dr. Bobbi Philipp, was the impetus behind Ochsner Baptist starting their Baby-Friendly journey. From there began a 3-year process of change. Their biggest challenge was developing an education program in their prenatal clinics where before there was nothing in place. Developing the program, including audio-visual materials and handouts, and then implementing and evaluating it, was “an incredible amount of work,” Cindy says. Yet alongside challenges come successes, and their sweetest, according to Cindy, were implementing skin-to-skin and being part of a system seeking Baby-Friendly designation for all its facilities.
Becoming Baby-Friendly is a team effort, and Cindy would like to thank Ochsner Baptist’s Baby-Friendly taskforce, in particular Robin Winebar, RN, MSN, CNL, Performance Improvement Coordinator for Women’s Service System at Ochsner Health System, for their hard work in achieving this designation. Robin, Cindy says, was “instrumental” in helping them implement changes using a performance improvement model.
What is Cindy’s advice to other hospitals on the Baby-Friendly pathway? “Find a staff member on each unit that will be a leader and support the changes. Educate, educate, educate. Providers have to be educated first. They have to have the knowledge and skill set to be able to help and teach the patients. And it has to be evidence-based best practices. They can’t do it from their own experiences. And be an effective change agent.”
Congratulations, Ochsner Baptist, we are very proud of you!
This week’s CHEER Champions of the Week are Forrest General Hospital & University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The 2 institutions, located across the street from one another, have formed a great partnership and kicked off this year’s USM football season with a Mothers’ Lounge for mothers to privately care for and breastfeed their babies while attending the games!
“We want to make breastfeeding easy and enjoyable for mothers, and part of that mission is enabling them to attend their favorite events, like Southern Miss football games. Of course, a mother may feed her child anywhere she feels comfortable, but for some, who prefer to breastfeed privately, the Mothers’ Lounge may empower them to come out and enjoy the game with their families when they may have chosen to stay home,” said Millie Swan, Forrest Health vice president.
Millie’s vision has, in fact, been realized. As the football season comes to a close, the feedback from mothers has been overwhelmingly positive. 10-15 mothers have used the Lounge each game, and some mothers even said they purchased season tickets because of the Lounge. Also, based on mothers’ feedback, Forrest General donated and installed a changing table and provided a radio in the Mothers’ Lounge. After these changes, one mom left a note in the Lounge which read: “Thank you for the changing table and radio – perfect addition. I’m so thankful to have this option on game day!”
Tangela Boutwell, RN, BSN, Director of Women and Children’s Services at Forrest General Hospital was Project Lead on the Mothers’ Lounge project. Tangela and Millie brainstormed the idea and they agreed to approach USM for the next football season.
“I noticed that other colleges and universities offered this service and knew of their success,” Tangela shared. “I am very passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding and making it easier for mothers who choose this option. I know that administration at Forrest General feels the same way so whenever I see an opportunity to make our community a friendlier place for nursing mothers, I do my best to help implement a plan.”
Millie spoke with Jamie Martin, General Manager at USM IMG Sports Marketing, and they set up a meeting to discuss the Lounge. Through conversations with Jamie, they realized that USM already had a room for nursing students to use throughout the week in the Cook Union building near the stadium. From there, it was a matter of opening the room during games and ensuring that mothers were aware that it was available to them. Millie pulled in Michael Marks, Public Relations Coordinator for Forrest Health, who coordinates the hospital’s activities with USM. Michael, Tangela, and Millie, along with Jamie; Stephen McCay, USM Assistant Director for Operations, Union & Programs Department; Kim Davis, Patient Care Manager of Labor and Delivery; Leigh Ann Leonard, Patient Care Manager, NICU; and Jami King, USM Assistant Director, Event Services, formed a committee to bring the project together and communicate everything to the public.
Forrest General Hospital was Mississippi’s first Baby-Friendly Hospital, so it should come as no surprise that they are also leading the way in terms of making their community breastfeeding-friendly. The Mothers’ Lounge is part of an ongoing initiative at USM to make their games fun for the entire family. We applaud both institutions for their achievement and for supporting breastfeeding mothers!
Lydia West, MPH, RD, LD is a consultant with the Mississippi Public Health Institute (MSPHI). She has been a staunch supporter of breastfeeding work, and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to move breastfeeding initiatives in Mississippi forward!
As a consultant with MSPHI, Lydia’s main role is to assist the Mississippi State Department of Health, (MSDH) Office of Preventive Health (OPH), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) in addressing CDC-supported efforts to increase access to breastfeeding-friendly environments. Lydia and MSDH OPH DNPAO staff also collaborate with CHAMPS to provide continuing education related to breastfeeding for hospital staff. This CHEER Champion of the Week also works with communities in Mississippi to establish Baby Cafés. She is in the process of gathering data for a resource and referral system of breastfeeding support for clinics and communities around Mississippi. This work included her leading listening sessions to find out what breastfeeding resources community members and health practitioners would like to have included in the resource and referral system. She is now in the process of compiling that information and will convert it into a user-friendly format that can be updated as needed.
In addition, Lydia serves as Co-chair for Mississippi’s State Health Improvement Plan’s Priority Area. The focus of this group is to improve infant health by increasing the number of breastfeeding mothers in Mississippi. She enjoys working with the Mississippi Perinatal Quality Collaborative on their breastfeeding projects. Mississippi breastfeeding supporters have a monthly call to talk about their work and Lydia helps to coordinate and lead those calls. She is an active member of the Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition and worked with this group and several other Mississippians to get Mississippi 2016 Senate Bill (2070) passed into law. She promotes the meetings of the East, North, and South Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalitions through social media and word-of-mouth.
Lydia shares, “What motivates me to do breastfeeding work is the passion of people who are the ‘boots on the ground’. I am inspired by the collaborative effort of Mississippi’s breastfeeding champions and the strategies they use to strive for their goals every day.”
Lydia is a big supporter of CHAMPS and ROSE. She has attended CHAMPS and ROSE conferences and events in the state. She also feels that it is important to educate people in Mississippi about the work of CHAMPS and ROSE.
Regarding breastfeeding, Lydia believes things are changing for the better in Mississippi. She thinks people seem more comfortable with breastfeeding in public and not as secretive about the issues they have faced while breastfeeding. “It is wonderful to see more places of employments support nursing mothers by providing time and a place to pump when they return to work,” Lydia remarks.
“What does the future hold?” poses Lydia. “I hope that these trends in Mississippi and nationwide continue. I want more people to understand the benefits of breastfeeding, support families who choose to breastfeed, and help families not to feel guilty in whatever feeding choices they make. It is vital for more employers to give paid break time for mothers to pump or feed their child(ren).”
Congratulations, Lydia! In the words of CHAMPS Mississippi Coordinator Cathy Carothers, “Lydia is a delight to work with—very positive and proactive. We are fortunate to have her in Mississippi!”
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).