This week’s CHEER Champion is Christine Powell, AA, CLC, and Peer Counselor at the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), where she has worked on and off, since 1996, for a total of 11 years. She was nominated for her long-standing service to mothers in Greenwood, MS and her contributions during the last CHAMPS site visit to Greenwood Leflore Hospital.
“Breastfeeding is the natural thing to do for a baby, the benefits are immense to both mothers and babies,“ Christine says. As a mother of 7 with 18 grandkids, she has experienced firsthand results of breastfeeding and she believes that “it takes a village and moms need that support”. In her role as Peer Counselor, Christine provides education and lactation support through breastfeeding classes, clinics, home and hospital visits for breastfeeding mothers. She facilitates monthly classes at Greenwood Leflore Hospital and was present at their most recent site visit, during which she gave excellent input and insight on the role of WIC in supporting mothers after discharge.
Christine was very excited about the CHAMPS visit to GLH, she enjoyed seeing the support that CHAMPS provides to them as they navigate the Baby Friendly pathway. She is happy about the changes the hospital is making and believes it has been a long time coming. She says the recently launched lactation room is a “wonderful and very much needed change for staff and patients who are breastfeeding.”
When asked what motivates her to do breastfeeding work, Christine described the historical issues that have resulted in misconceptions around breastfeeding in MS. “People have stopped breastfeeding for so long that what was once a natural and easy process has become quite difficult” she says. “When I first started out, I didn’t know how much work it would take to support moms in breastfeeding because it was no longer the norm.” Christine aims to help mothers to bridge the knowledge gap and fulfill their goal of nursing their babies!
When she was not being a Peer Counselor, Christine worked in a correctional facility where she continued educating the men on how to support their partners in breastfeeding. “It was big to be able to do that with the male population” she says. Christine also provides lactation support and education to church members on breastfeeding.
Congratulations Christine, thank you for your many years of service!
Congratulations to CHAMPS Hospital, Highland Community Hospital, on their recent Baby-Friendly designation! Located in Picayune Mississippi, Highland is part of the Forrest General Health System. The facility houses a Family Birth Center that provides family-centered childbirth experiences for women and families in Pearl River County.
“We are so thrilled to have accomplished the designation of Baby-Friendly and we are proud to be a part of such a worldwide task of providing evidence based practices towards quality maternal/infant care,” shares Janelle Imhoff, BSN, RNC, Director of Women’s Services and Surgery at Highland.
Before entering the Baby-Friendly pathway in 2017, the hospital recognized that its biggest hurdle with helping patients and supporting breastfeeding was the need for additional staff education on up-to-date best practices. “After we received a staff education grant in 2016, we learned about the Baby-Friendly Initiative as “the gold standard of care,” and together we committed to the journey with the goal of obtaining this prestigious designation as a quality care provider,” Janelle reflects. Shortly after this, they collaborated with CHAMPS, kept communications open with staff members, and continued to work through challenges in an effort to complete the pathway.
Janelle mentioned some changes that were observed among patients and staff as a result of their Baby-Friendly journey. As they progressed through the pathway, the team realized that prenatal education provided at their clinic made patients more receptive to breastfeeding and information on skin-to-skin and rooming-in. In addition, staff members who were hesitant at first became convinced that Baby-Friendly practices were best for patients when they began to witness the improvements brought about by the change in practice.
Following Highland's official designation on November 18, 2019, Janelle explained that establishing the recommended standard of practice was the team’s biggest success during this process. “The valuable knowledge and experience increased staff confidence and patient trust,” she says. Since they joined the pathway, Highland witnessed more mothers admitted with the intention to breastfeed as well as an increase in the number of mothers exclusively breastfeeding.
Janelle credits the hospital’s success to the Maternal/Child staff who worked very hard to implement and sustain the practices. “During the difficult times, several staff stepped up to combat the challenges. These include Jordan Keller and Kassie Holston who completed the CLC program; Charlotte Bales and Lauren Corliss who both completed many audits and keep the unit director on track.” Now that the hospital has been designated, the team plans to enjoy their success and the knowledge that the hospital's daily maternity practices demonstrate their commitment to the patients. They plan to continue to educate themselves and provide top-notch quality care to their patients.
Congratulations Highland, thank you for your excellent work in getting designated!
Congratulations to CHEER Champion of the Week, Baby Café USA (BCUSA), an organization that is known for its commitment to promoting and supporting the provision of free, high-quality lactation care to breastfeeding mothers across the U.S!
“Our mission is to promote and support the development of community-based, drop-in breastfeeding support sites offering on-going, high-quality, free-of-charge lactation care to breastfeeding mothers,” shares Lucia Jenkins, RN, IBCLC, RLC, Founder and Executive Director of Baby Café USA.
The first Baby Café in the United States was held in 2006, in Boston MA. Lucia got the idea for the organization during a 2004 visit to New Zealand, where she explored methods used by IBCLCs to ensure successful breastfeeding. Upon her return, she spearheaded the implementation of the Baby Café model in Boston.
BCUSA became an official non-profit organization in 2011 and has since facilitated the establishment of about 138 active Baby Cafés across 32 U.S. states. In 2016, they partnered with CHAMPS to open the Delta Hills Baby Café, the first in Mississippi. Since then, 14 more Baby Cafés have opened up across the state.
Though designed to establish a set standard for care and support to breastfeeding moms across the country, the model is often specially targeted towards individual communities and their unique challenges. “In partnership with other community organizations and resources, Baby Cafés aim to create a village sense where women from all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses can come together and learn from each other by trouble shooting their problems and helping one another through breastfeeding challenges,” says Lucia. They also provide mentoring opportunities for regular attendees to be empowered to achieve an IBCLC and become assets within their communities.
When asked for examples of unique ways in which the comprehensive Baby Café model has been adopted, Lucia described Cafés that have: opened in soup kitchens and a domestic abuse shelter to reach and assist moms with breastfeeding, and partnered with community assets such as YMCA to provide free family memberships to moms who attend a set number of Cafés. The latter created a culture where moms work hard to not only keep fit, but also breastfeed successfully together.
Baby Café USA is most proud of its ability to have helped mothers overcome their various breastfeeding challenges and breastfeed successfully and exclusively. “The support systems and communities created in person and via social media are our biggest successes”, states Lucia. “Mothers in various communities develop an ownership of their Baby Café and make it theirs culturally, this involvement in their own care is what enables success”.
Thank you Baby Café USA, for providing spaces for breastfeeding mothers to support one another across the U.S!
Click here to find a Baby Café in your state.
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Jackie Berger, MS, a CHEER Consultant and Project Manager for the Rocky Boy’s Community Health Assessment (CHA) Project. She was nominated for her outstanding work, collaboration, and leadership on the recently completed CHA.
“My favorite part of the CHA was tracking down community data” Jackie says. “It was like a puzzle and I enjoyed the process of creating a product for the community that they and CHAMPS can be proud of.” Jackie is an anthropologist who does research on historic health and inequalities. She began working with CHEER during her Master’s program at Boston University. Through this involvement, she was able to look at the lived experiences of marginalized populations and how that intersects with health.
Over the years, Jackie has worked on various CHEER projects, mainly CHAs for Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne and other American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in Montana. In her role as project lead for Rocky Boy’s Community Health Assessment, she coordinated the survey, collaborated with the community to collect data, conducted data analysis, and wrote the CHA. Prior to that, she was a Research Assistant on the Blackfeet CHA, where she organized existing data on the tribe and developed the CHEER approach for conducting CHAs with AI/AN tribes. In addition, Jackie currently maintains the database of all CHA sources and results.
When asked what motivates her work with CHEER, Jackie replied “I am motivated by the idea of honing my skills and contributing to the health of living communities for a change.” She is glad to have had the opportunity for collaboration and research with historically disadvantaged Native communities. Outside of her involvement with CHEER, Jackie is a doctoral student at the University of South Florida, where she’s a bioarchaeologist. She also enjoys fitness, reading, gardening, and baking in her spare time.
Congratulations Jackie! Thank you for all your hard work and best wishes on your doctoral program.
Read about the big push to have your child counted in the 2020 Census at https://www.census.gov/
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).