Clark Fork Hospital is all about being baby friendly

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L-R Cassie Craft, CNA, Kassy Marjerrison, RN/OB Coordinator and Terry Miller, Senior Breastfeeding Consultant with the Montana Nutrition & Physical Activity Program and main facilitator of the MT Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (photo supplied)

Recently Terry Miller of the Department of Public Health and Human Services visited with officials from the Clark Fork Valley Hospital(CFVH) to welcome them into the Baby Friendly Initiative program.

“Montana has focused on several areas of grant deliverables including: increasing access to breastfeeding friendly environments,” said Miller.

So far in Montana there are ten baby friendly hospitals with three more coming on board which includes Sanders County’s own Clark Fork Valley Press.

According to babyfriendlyusa.org; they explain the initiative program to allow hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or safely feed with formula, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

“In addition to  the numerous health benefits breastfeeding offers for mothers, babies and communities, basically, 60%  of mothers in the U.S . fail to reach their breastfeeding goals. The BFHI outlines evidenced-based prenatal and post-partum breastfeeding support strategies for birthing centers to implement to help mothers meet their breastfeeding goals and help States meet Healthy People 2020 Breastfeeding initiation and duration goals,” explained Miller.

Miller went on to say that becoming a Baby-Friendly Designated Hospital is  a process that takes on average 4-5 years. Baby-Friendly USA outlines the following benefits in designation:

• Deliver patient-centered care

• Improve health outcomes for mothers and babies

• Improve patient satisfaction

• Elevate the reputation and standards of the birthing facility

• Develop a professional environment of competence

• Build leadership and teamwork skills among staff

• Improve m-PINC scores rated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

• Meet Joint Commission maternity care standards for exclusive breast milk feeding

• Meet corporate compliance requirements

• Achieve Healthy People 2020 goals for breastfeeding

Clark Fork Valley Hospital’s Kassy Marjerrison (RN/OB Coordinator) is heading the program at the Plains facility.

“Baby Friendly is important because it is that seal of approval that not many birth facilities in Montana have been able to achieve. The Birth Center and Community Medical Center in Missoula for example just received their designation this winter and we will be right on their tails. Pretty cool for a “small” rural facility. Baby Friendly designates those hospitals that are committed to going the extra mile to provided excellent care to not only babies and their mommas but also the family,” said Marjerrison.

“For us it has been a 3 year process of revamping policy and training staff,” she continued to say.

Marjerrison also said there were four phases to which the hospital had to move through to ensure they could receive the accreditation with each phase can take up to a year to complete.

“ The 4Ds are, Discovery – researching the facility’s needs and goals to become baby friendly, Development – writing new infant feeding policies, developing patient and staff education plans. Developing community support resources for breastfeeding, Dissemination – putting education plans to work and collecting data on newborn feeding methods and Designation – Baby friendly onsite visit, 2 day evaluation, patient interviews, correction recommendations and finally designation,” she explained.

“I am happy to report that CFVH is moving thoughtfully & efficiently  through the Baby-Friendly  4-D pathway requirements.  The NAPA program is particularly impressed with CFVH’s strong baby-friendly task force team and extra efforts including members in the many areas of facility operations (administration, purchasing, direct care). In addition, the inclusion of community postpartum healthcare providers in Baby-Friendly training is particularly noteworthy in supporting breastfeeding duration rates which drop off significantly after the first few months postpartum,” said Miller of the process and stride taken by the CFVH.

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