This week’s CHAMPion of the Week is Jennifer Melton, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, Director of Women’s Services at CHAMPS hospital Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner (OMC-K) in Kenner, Louisiana. Jennifer was nominated as CHAMPion of the Week for the great job she is doing leading her staff in their Baby-Friendly journey. OMC-K is in the Dissemination phase of the 4-D pathway, and they will soon be entering Designation!
Jennifer openly shared the ups and downs of her Baby-Friendly journey experience with CHAMPS, saying, “The Baby-Friendly journey has been challenging. Our unit has had to make a lot of workflow changes. We've had two big challenges to overcome, including Transition on Labor & Delivery (keeping the baby with the mother in the Labor & Delivery or Recovery room during the transition period, rather than bringing the baby to the Nursery), and prenatal education by the clinic staff and physicians. The most exciting change was receiving a lot of positive feedback from patients on our new Transition process on Labor & Delivery. It feels great to be almost to Designation. We've accomplished a lot in the last year and a half, and my staff should be very proud.”
Jennifer even created personalized chocolate bars to thank her staff; outside their regular wrapper, they contained an additional wrapper that read: “THERE’S NO WEIGH WE COULD DO IT WITHOUT YOU!” We asked Jennifer about what inspired her to create these, and she said, “I believe in celebrating little wins. I also feel that recognition inspires and motivates people.” Jennifer remembers how her night shift staff was slightly hesitant about weighing the babies in the mothers’ rooms, but once they started that process she noticed how the staff independently came up with a plan on how to integrate it into their workflow. Jennifer said, “I appreciated their willingness to make this change (without complaining to me). The candy was just a way of saying, ‘Thank you.’”
Jennifer has worked at OMC-K for 7 years. She says she started encouraging early skin-to-skin contact in 2012, and that their exclusive breastfeeding rate during the maternity hospital stay at that point was only 15%. She reports that it is now 33%. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” Jennifer says, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”
What is Jennifer’s advice to other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly? She says, “Get the staff involved. Since the changes being implemented affect their workflows, they should be able to give input.” Jennifer made sure she set a clear vision and goals. Then she asked staff how they were going to achieve the goals; she was in awe with how her staff rose to the challenge. She says, “It's been amazing to see the creativity of the staff and how they have taken ownership of a large portion of this journey. We would not be where we are if I didn't have so many wonderful staff members on my team.”
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).