This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Sherry J. Pitts, RN, MHA, CEO of CHAMPS Hospital Merit Health Woman’s Hospital in Flowood, Mississippi. As an administrative leader, Sherry has been giving her total support and encouragement to staff to achieve Baby-Friendly designation. She is also the person coordinating Baby-Friendly for Merit Health hospital system in Mississippi. There are 8 Merit Health birthing facilities in Mississippi and they are all enrolled in CHAMPS. Merit Health hospital system is part of the larger Community Health Systems.
“We are a woman's hospital that is committed to giving high quality care in a safe environment to all of our patients,” says Sherry. “We pride ourselves in patients having the best private maternity experience at our hospital. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a perfect fit for our mission because of the evidence related to mother/baby health and Baby-Friendly.”
Like all Baby-Friendly journeys, the journey at Merit Health Woman’s has had its struggles and successes. Sherry says their biggest challenge has been to educate patients earlier in their pregnancies. They have recently made some breakthroughs with this. She is most proud of the teamwork and dedication of all staff at the hospital for achieving higher rooming-in rates, 72% on their last audit.
Sherry shared the story of a patient who called their Lactation Coordinator, Rene Simpson, BSN, IBCLC, and seemed agitated because she heard about some “changes” they had made since her last baby was born 3 years ago. Rene described the process starting with skin-to-skin, breastfeeding education and rooming-in. The patient responded excitedly and said, "that is exactly what I wanted the first time!"
Sherry has been coordinating BFHI monthly status updates via conference call for Merit Health birthing hospitals. She says they have identified the need to provide more specific coaching to bring more assistance to facilities that are struggling, including site visits and staff mentoring.
CEO at Merit Health Woman’s since 2004, Sherry is also active in community organizations. Recently she was recognized as a 2017 Woman of Distinction by the Girls Scouts of Mississippi. Additionally, she is a member of the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red; a member of the Mississippi Affiliate of the American College of Healthcare Executives; and past President of the Central Mississippi Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Congratulations, Sherry, it’s wonderful to have your leadership and support!
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).