The Family Birth Center at Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale, WA, recently was designated a Baby-Friendly facility, joining other hospitals that have completed a long review process and met extensive criteria.
To earn the designation from Baby-Friendly USA, part of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), hospitals must comply with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding guidelines established by WHO. (The steps are available online at: https://bit.ly/2EQM3QK.)
The steps are intended to reduce the risk of such problems as diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome.
To prepare for the review process necessary for the designation, nurses and medical staff at the hospital participated in 20 hours of education, says Tamara Leal, BSN, MS, director of the birthing facility, part of the CHI Franciscan system. The hospital also modified its breast-feeding policy. “The journey toward the designation began years ago as a quality improvement project. We had to develop policies and do a lot of work from the ground up, which included so much education,” Leal says.
“Baby-Friendly isn’t just supporting those 10 steps. It’s also about supporting and educating informed choices in practices, which is an important variation.”
Each of the 10 steps required developing extensive policies, Leal says. It takes years because there are so much data to be collected and so much education to be completed, she says.
“One challenge is that this is not just in one department. It’s everyone in the facility and the connecting clinics like family medicine,” Leal says.
“Everyone in Harrison Medical Center had to receive training in baby-friendly medicine, and that includes environmental services, lab staff, food services, literally everyone in our facilities. That creates a challenge just because of the large scope.”
The amount and scope of the training differed for those groups, of course. Nursing staff required 15 hours of didactic breast-feeding education plus five hours of competency demonstration.
All physicians, regardless of specialty, had to complete three hours of breast-feeding education. Other staff completed a half-hour PowerPoint presentation and had to be ready to speak about it when Baby-Friendly conducted a site visit.
“It makes a difference to our moms, our babies, and our community. That’s where you see the real long-term benefits,” Leal says.
“Is it prestigious and does it put us in an exclusive group? Yes, but the real benefit and the reason to go through this effort is what you can do to improve the lives of babies and everyone else in the community.”
- Tamara Leal, BSN, MS, Director, Family Birth Center, Harrison Medical Center, Silverdale, WA. Phone: (360) 744-8895.