Montefiore Wakefield once again received the prestigious Baby-Friendly hospital designation from Baby-Friendly USA, the accrediting body and national authority in the United States for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Montefiore Einstein is New York City’s only health system to have two hospitals simultaneously awarded the Baby-Friendly designation. The other is Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Einstein Campus.
“This designation means the entire hospital community—from the healthcare professionals to the cafeteria to security to the environmental staff—is willing and able to support new parents and infants at Montefiore Wakefield Hospital, whether they are patients or visitors,” said Rachel Piacquadio, RN-BC, C-EFM, Associate Administrative Nurse Manager, Maternal Child Health, Wakefield.
To earn its five-year recertification, Wakefield Hospital met more than 80 criteria established by UNICEF and underwent a two-day site visit to demonstrate it provides the best possible breastfeeding support, in part by following WHO’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding support is particularly important in the Bronx, where a low rate of mothers choose to breastfeed despite its being the healthiest option for babies.
“It really comes down to education and knowing all the benefits of breastfeeding, like helping to prevent diseases, ear infections, respiratory problems and gut infections,” said Veronica L. Jackson, MHA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Associate Clinical Director, Maternal Child Health, Wakefield Campus. “Then, it’s important to have the support—to know what resources are available and how to access them. Being Baby-Friendly means we offer all of that to mothers in the hospital, and to visitors as well.”
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative launched in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
Wakefield nurses attend a 20-hour course to ensure they understand the importance of breastfeeding, how to spot a baby’s feeding cues, and how to initiate and continue breastfeeding so they can teach new mothers. Additionally, the hospital promotes mother-baby bonding by rooming babies with mothers and encouraging skin-to-skin contact. Under the Baby-Friendly USA criteria, babies must spend a minimum of 23 hours a day with their mothers, unless a medical necessity dictates otherwise. Wakefield eliminated its newborn nursery in favor of “rooming-in” (mothers and their infants sharing a room) to meet those standards.
On site, investigators conduct detailed interviews with patients, nurses and providers; review charts; and even make phone calls to mothers who previously gave birth at the hospital or had stays in the neonatal intensive care unit. They look for things like written breastfeeding policies and consistent staff training on policy implementation. Investigators also examine data for rates of breastfeeding, training hours and numerous other metrics to ensure the hospital is actually adhering to the Baby-Friendly USA criteria.
The Baby-Friendly team worked countless hours securing the designation and said it would not have been possible without the help of Wakefield’s leadership, including Rodney L. Wright, MD, MSc, Director, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Montefiore Einstein, and Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Regginald Jordan, FACHE, Vice President, Clinical Services, and Executive Director, Wakefield; Jessica A. Dekhtyar, MD, Attending Physician, Medicine, Montefiore Einstein, and Medical Director, Wakefield; Joan O’Brien, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Assistant Vice President of Nursing, Wakefield; Sheri L. Nemerofsky, MD, FAAP, Director of Newborn Services, Wakefield, and Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Brittany H. Sanford, MD, FACOG, Associate Director, Labor & Delivery and Inpatient Obstetrics, Montefiore Einstein.
The Baby-Friendly team at the Wakefield Campus celebrated its achievement on May 24.