Pat Jones is a WIC Peer Counselor 2 for the Mississippi Department of Health. She was nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for the excellent job she is doing helping to facilitate the CHAMPS Delta Hills Baby Café (Greenville, MS) and representing WIC at CHAMPS hospital Merit Health River Region (Vicksburg, MS).
“My passion for breastfeeding is what motivates me to do the work I do,” Pat shares. “I try to meet clients where they are and provide practical and accurate information concerning breastfeeding and how it can work in their family.”
Pat’s job as a WIC Peer Counselor 2 entails educating, encouraging, and supporting families regarding breastfeeding, and providing evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions. At the CHAMPS Delta Hills Baby Café, Pat strives to create a welcoming environment and facilitate open conversations about breastfeeding that meet the needs of all attendees.
“What I enjoy most about the Baby Café is that it has been a dynamic resource for the community,” says Pat. “I'm witnessing open dialogue on all aspects of breastfeeding.”
Pat shares that she is happy to be partnering with Merit Health River Region, where she has met with the maternal health staff to discuss the services the WIC Breastfeeding Program provides. She did a wonderful job representing WIC at a CHAMPS site visit there. Pat has also been a member of the Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition for more than 15 years and is proud to see the advancements they have made.
Congratulations, Pat! CHAMPS applauds your work and thanks you!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Deanna Trammell, CLC, WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) in the Indian Health Service’s Bethel Sub Regional Hospital in Bethel, Alaska. CHAMPS team members worked with YKHC during our American Indian/Alaska Native CHAMPS grant, and recently met Deanna at CHAMPS' 4-hr breastfeeding training at YKHC’s Prematernal Home in Bethel in March 2018. Deanna is the only WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for an expansive area in and around Bethel in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and she offers lactation support to a large population of mothers, including those in remote villages. She is originally from Aniak, Alaska and is a member of the Aniak Tribe.
“The Bethel WIC office covers a large portion of Southwest Alaska,—the majority of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta—servicing 3 boroughs and approximately 56-60 surrounding villages,” says Deanna. “It is a challenging, at times slightly overwhelming, yet extremely rewarding experience for me to be the only peer counselor for such an area as this.”
As a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Deanna’s duties include: providing prenatal breastfeeding education; supporting mothers with breastfeeding, especially first-time mothers and those facing breastfeeding problems upon return to their home villages; providing pumps and breastfeeding supplies for eligible mothers on WIC; and referring mothers to general providers, pediatricians, or nutritionists/dieticians. Deanna also regularly visits the obstetrics ward at YKHC to speak with newly delivered mothers about breastfeeding and to follow-up with mothers on WIC.
The villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are remote and mostly reachable only by airplane, and sometimes by vehicle when the river is frozen enough for safe driving. Because of this, pregnant mothers usually come to Bethel around 1 month prior to their expected due date and remain for 48-72 hours postpartum before returning home unless there are medical reasons to stay longer. These mothers stay at YKHC’s Prematernal Home, a hotel, or with family members who may live in Bethel. Deanna teaches a breastfeeding class at the Prematernal Home every 3 weeks. After the mothers return home to their villages, Deanna follows-up with them by phone depending on their breastfeeding needs. Deanna shares that these mothers’ experiences with breastfeeding range from very easy to difficult, and that a lot of them are very thankful for any help and support they receive after they return home. Many villages also have local clinics where mothers can receive in-person support.
Like many breastfeeding advocates, Deanna’s personal experiences, both positive and negative, fuel her desire to help other mothers.
“I was previously a WIC participant and currently still am,” she shares. “My motivation to do this work came from having had problems breastfeeding my oldest of 2 children, getting help from WIC to continue providing breast milk via pumping, and then succeeding very well with my second who is now 4.5 years old and still breastfeeds. My desire to help those in the same way I was helped, paired with that it’s something I was passionate about was my main motivation to get my certification as a Certified Lactation Counselor.”
In the future, Deanna plans to remain a breastfeeding advocate in any community she finds herself in, and to possibly become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Congratulations, Deanna, on your inspiring work! We wish you the best!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is John Micka, RD, Nutritionist Senior for the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). He has worked for MSDH for 19 years with both the WIC program and the PHRM (Perinatal High Risk Management) program. In recent years, his focus has been on WIC. He was nominated for the valuable work he does to encourage his clients in WIC to breastfeed, and to educate them on the benefits of breastfeeding.
As Nutritionist Senior, John’s duties include providing nutrition counseling and WIC services for prenatal clients, breastfeeding clients, non-breastfeeding clients, infants, and children up to age 5. He works closely with WIC breastfeeding staff and directs clients to them for breastfeeding support. The fact that he is a man puts him in a unique position to encourage breastfeeding from a male perspective.
“John presents himself as a male influence in favor of breastfeeding, and he encourages the women to do this for their babies,” says Peggy Disbrow, CLC, Peer Counselor 3 for MSDH. “This seems to really give the women more confidence in their ability to breastfeed their children.”
John shares: “I certainly believe that nutrition is the main component of any healthy lifestyle and that breastfeeding is the very best start that a mother can give her baby. I always try to encourage our clients to breastfeed. I think that it can be helpful for my clients to hear about breastfeeding from a man because very often the only ones talking about breastfeeding are women. I try to approach the subject with the focus on what is very best for the baby.”
In addition to his career with MSDH, John owns a fitness center, Revolution Fitness in Hattiesburg, MS, which has the reputation of being a “hardcore” training facility with many powerlifters and other types of strength athletes. John enjoys competing in powerlifting, strongman, and Scottish highland games, where events such as the stone throw, hammer throw, and the caber toss take place. His commitment to a healthy lifestyle unifies his career and personal interests.
“I know that I was breastfed and I’m sure that I am better off because of it,” says John. “I am always excited when our breastfeeding mothers are doing well with healthy, happy babies.”
Congratulations, John, and thank you for all that you do!
Congratulations to Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, Louisiana, for achieving Baby-Friendly designation on July 12, 2018! Touro was part of the first wave of the CHAMPS South program, during 2014-2017. It is a large, academic and private practice, level III obstetric facility with a level III NICU, and it performs approximately 3,300 deliveries annually. It is one of only two birthing hospitals in the city of New Orleans. The other birthing hospital, Ochsner Baptist, with approximately 2,997 births per year, was also part of CHAMPS and received Baby-Friendly designation on October 31, 2017. The fact that all births in New Orleans will now take place under the Baby-Friendly model of care is truly something to celebrate!
“Receiving Baby-Friendly designation is a well-deserved honor and accomplishment for the Touro Family Birthing Center team,” says Kim Faught, RN BSN, Director of Women’s Services at Touro Infirmary. “This recognizes our dedication to high quality maternal and newborn care. Even though Baby Friendly centers around breastfeeding, it represents a change in the way in which care to the mother and baby is delivered. As a leader in maternity care in New Orleans, it is important for Touro to lead the way in providing comprehensive care to our patients. The care supported by the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the Ten Steps) allows us to do that.”
“The Baby-Friendly journey was a long one for Touro,” Kim shares honestly.
They officially began their Baby-Friendly journey in February 2015 when they entered the Discovery phase. Then, they reorganized their team and approach in December 2016 and re-launched their Baby-Friendly journey in January 2017. One of their biggest changes, Kim says, was the provision of consistent and standardized patient education. Shannon Grosch, RN, BSN, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant and CHAMPS Team Lead at Touro, led the charge on devising a very successful, creative and organized prenatal education system.
Kim shares that their senior administrative team was very supportive from the onset, but getting nurse and physician commitment and buy-in was one of their greatest challenges. However, once the staff embraced Touro’s commitment to the Ten Steps as “the model for care delivery, [their] forward progress became steady.” Meeting the criteria for the Ten Steps also earned Touro “Gift” designation from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Bureau of Family Health, which provided additional evidence-based breastfeeding resources to assist in their journey towards Baby Friendly.
What is Kim’s advice to other hospitals seeking Baby-Friendly designation?
“Stay the course…it is a marathon, not a sprint,” Kim says. “Celebrate even the smallest victories (and celebrate often) with the team and staff. Hold each member of the team and staff accountable. Formulation of a clear infant feeding policy is the foundation to success. Educate…educate…educate….if you think the staff has been educated, do it again! Touro could not have moved through the Designation phase in one year without the guidance from the CHAMPS staff. They provided us with useful and practical advice that led us to a successful survey. The audit tools provided by CHAMPS were invaluable as was the mock on-site Baby-Friendly survey.”
“It’s a long journey and receiving our designation is something for which we are extremely proud,” Kim says. “Our success represents the dedication of our staff and the support of our administration and physician champions.”
Well done, Touro! We celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment with 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).