Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital Merit Health Woman’s Hospital in Flowood, Mississippi, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on September 28, 2018! Merit Health Woman’s is part of Community Health Systems’ Merit Health hospital system (MHHS). MHHS has 8 birthing facilities, which are all a part of CHAMPS and have been supporting each other on the Baby-Friendly pathway. Merit Health Woman’s is the first MHHS hospital to become Baby-Friendly, and CHAMPS is confident the others will soon follow! Merit Health Woman’s has approximately 940 births per year and a Level 3 NICU.
“We are very proud and honored to be a Baby-Friendly-designated birthing facility!” says Rene Simpson, BSN, IBCLC, Lactation Coordinator and CHAMPS Team Leader at Merit Health Woman’s. “On September 28, 2018, we received a very exciting phone call. The words, ‘Congratulations on achieving Baby-Friendly designation,” were met with cheers and tears by team members anxiously listening to results of our on-site survey.”
Merit Health Woman’s Baby-Friendly journey began in January 2016, soon after they joined CHAMPS. Like every hospital on the Baby-Friendly pathway, the changes Merit Health Woman’s had to undergo were not minor, and the road was not always smooth. As a new IBCLC and CHAMPS Team Leader, Rene says she was “initially overwhelmed by the magnitude of the initiative.” However, they steadily moved forward, thanks to some key elements of success, including Rene’s leadership, an active Baby-Friendly taskforce, and the amazing support of Merit Health Woman’s CEO, Sherry Pitts, RN, MHA. Sherry not only supported Merit Health Woman’s Baby-Friendly journey, she coordinated MHHS’ entire effort for all 8 of their birthing facilities to become Baby-Friendly!
Sherry will continue to support the remaining 7 MHHS hospitals on their Baby-Friendly journeys. She will continue to lead monthly conference calls for each hospital to report their progress and encourage each other. Rene will also offer more specific consultative services as needed to assist the other MHHS hospitals in meeting their goals. MHHS recently offered to make promotional videos for each of their hospital’s maternity units. Click here to view Merit Health Woman’s beautiful video on the excellent level of maternity care they provide!
Why is becoming Baby-Friendly worth all the hard work?
Rene shares: “For me as a lactation consultant, the best part of this initiative is the level of education our moms and staff receive. Our staff now feels empowered to assist a mom with breastfeeding, pumping and safe formula feeding. This is definitely a WIN for our moms and babies!”
Well done, Merit Health Woman’s! We are very proud of 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).