This week’s Champion is Becca Young, medical student at Oxford University and CHEERing volunteer. Becca was nominated for her hard work and dedication while she volunteered with CHEERing in Athens last August.
Being a medical student with a keen interest in international aid work, Becca decided to travel to Greece and make a direct impact. She chose CHEERing because she was struck by the simplicity of their mission, and the powerful effects of helping mothers to give their children the best possible start in life, no matter where that might be. “One of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing mothers’ faces light up when they see how well their babies are growing on our growth charts – you can see the weight physically lift off their shoulders,” Becca wrote in a recent article. She is glad to have been involved in CHEERing’s efforts to support mothers in best practices for infant feeding and health in and around Athens.
Before going to Athens in August, Becca had been involved with SolidariTee, an organization that fundraises at her university for legal aid in the Mediterranean. Her experience at CHEERing enabled her to recognize the disparities in the reality of her medical education in the UK and that of vulnerable refugee populations. She believes that this new perspective will be beneficial in her future medical practice.
In her spare time, Becca enjoys cooking, hiking, swimming/scuba diving, and reading.
Congratulations Becca, thank you for your contributions to CHEERing!
Note: Becca’s full article was published on August 19, 2019 and is available on the CHEERing Facebook page.
Our CHEER Champion of the Week is Paula Schreck, MD, IBCLC, FABM and Medical Director, Breastfeeding Support Services, Ascension St. John’s Hospital in Michigan. Dr. Schreck was nominated for her accomplishments in getting Detroit hospitals baby-friendly designated and founding the Ascension St. John Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic.
“My earlier exposures to BFHI got me hooked on the fast-paced, constantly changing environment of continuous quality improvement work,” Dr. Schreck says. She trained as a primary care pediatrician with residency at University of California, San Diego (UCSD). After a couple of years on the UCSD Clinical Faculty, she and her family moved back to her home state Michigan, where she became the Medical Director of Breastfeeding Support Services at Ascension St John Hospital. She founded the Ascension St. John Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic, a physician-led breastfeeding clinic in 2008, the first of its kind in the state. With momentum from the clinic, she and her team created the Mother Nurture Network, a comprehensive and far-reaching breastfeeding support program, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Through Mother Nurture’s programming, Ascension St. John achieved Baby-Friendly accreditation, making it the first of the four large urban hospitals in Detroit to do so. This action propelled the city toward full BFHI engagement, as the other three hospitals were engaged in the pathway within two years. Dr. Schreck discussed how Baby-Friendly has improved collaboration between these health systems. “We may be from competing health systems, but Baby-Friendly has brought the four sites together, and through a city-wide collaborative we are working together, with our community stakeholders, to achieve and maintain our designations” she says.
Since its inception, the Mother Nurture program has grown into an accredited Pathway 2 lactation consultant training program, accessible to women in the community, with the goal of diversifying and growing the lactation consultant field beyond the walls of the hospital to serve the communities of Michigan.
When asked what she enjoys the most about her work, she responded: “right now, after years of planning, I am most enjoying seeing the inaugural class of our lactation consultant training program begin their classwork and clinical rotations”. When she first started in the breastfeeding clinic, she was motivated by how, with her team’s assistance, a breastfeeding dyad could be helped back onto the road to successful and sustained breastfeeding. “Seeing our work scaled to hospital systems and statewide networks to reach thousands of breastfeeding dyads every year is exciting to me,” she says.
Currently, Dr. Schreck and her team provide technical assistance for birthing center quality improvement to the Ascension hospitals of Michigan, the majority of which are engaged in the Baby-Friendly pathway. They hope to have the rest of the Ascension birthing centers join soon, so all Ascension Michigan hospitals are eventually Baby-Friendly accredited. She continues to offer technical assistance to the other hospitals in Detroit, as needed, and she serves as a consultant with Coffective for the Gift program of Louisiana and other Coffective initiatives in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Minnesota and Michigan.
Dr. Schreck is an active member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and the chair of the Membership Committee. Though her sons are off to college, she is glad to still have her two golden retrievers – Macky and Mr. Darcy- to mother.
Congratulations, Dr. Schreck, and thank you for all you do to promote breastfeeding in Michigan and beyond!
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!
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).