NorthBay Medical Center is the first hospital in Solano County to earn the prestigious designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital.
The Fairfield hospital joins only 195 hospitals and birthing centers in the country to have the distinction, said a jubilant Katie Lydon, director of Women’s and Children’s Services. The process to change practices and improve care spanned two years.
A Baby Friendly hospital has specially trained staff that educates, encourages and supports breastfeeding moms. It enables mothers to stay with their healthy babies 24 hours a day after delivery and have a full hour of skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
“We’ve learned skin-to-skin contact is so important,” explained Lydon. “We know breastfeeding is one of the best things a new mom can do for her baby. So we’ve trained our staff to be able to provide support and education to make the effort successful.”
NorthBay Medical Center has five certified lactation consultants who are available for one-on-one sessions with new moms. The support doesn’t stop there; outpatient support groups and consultations are available after mother and baby leave the hospital.
Fewer than 8 percent of all mothers and their babies born in the United States receive this special attention at a Baby-Friendly facility
The hospital team that cares for mothers and babies partnered with the staff of the ABC (A Baby is Coming) prenatal clinic and the NorthBay Center for Women’s Health to achieve the special status.
“This was an accomplishment earned through the collaboration of countless teams within the system, all in the spirit of doing the right thing for our NorthBay patients – every patient, every encounter, every time,” said Lydon. NorthBay Healthcare has been a leader in establishing quality care for mothers and babies for more than 25 years, said Rhonda Martin, assistant vice president of nursing operations.
“We established the first and only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Solano County in 1985, and now we’re the first to establish ourselves as a Baby-Friendly Hospital. We have always put the health of mothers and babies first.” In a letter from Trish MacEnroe, executive director of Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., NorthBay was informed it earned designation after results of data collected during an onsite assessment survey and the final review of an external review board, were completed.
“It has been determined that ¬¬North Bay Healthcare has implemented all of the ten steps to successful breastfeeding and has met the requirement of purchasing breast milk substitutes,” wrote MacEnroe. The designation is good for a five-year period.
Achievement of the Baby-Friendly designation is not an easy task, she said, noting, “The U.S. Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria … are challenging, as they are designed to set the standards for the best possible breastfeeding support for mother and infant in the maternity setting, insuring high quality of care in this critical area of mother-baby care.”
NorthBay will maintain a tracking system to collect and maintain statistics such as breastfeeding rates, and success with skin-to-skin contact, among other things.
“Attaining the standards has definite costs, both in human and financial resources, yet the savings in terms of the quality of care provided, the resulting decrease in morbidity and mortality associated with optimal breastfeeding, and customer satisfaction, are well worth the investment,” wrote MacEnroe.
As one of the few remaining not-for-profit healthcare systems in Northern California, NorthBay Healthcare has a long tradition as the premier health care provider in Upper Solano County. NorthBay operates hospitals in Fairfield and Vacaville, as well as a 55 physician multispecialty group. Of particular interest to the business community, NorthBay offers a provider owned HMO, Western Health Advantage (WHA) and an occupational medicine program. Staffed by physicians with specialized training in occupational medicine, NorthBay Occupational Health works closely with employers to promote a healthy workforce and reduce costs associated with on-the-job injuries.