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Published on June 11, 2015

Grant Empowers SMC to Aid Mothers and Babies

Spartanburg Medical Center (SMC) is among the first hospitals in the nation chosen as a part of the EMPower Breastfeeding initiative.

EMPower is a nationwide program that will support only 100 hospitals in achieving Baby-Friendly USA designation, which is a global program launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding by providing families with knowledge, support and the skills necessary to be successful with breastfeeding. 

“Baby-Friendly hospitals have much higher breastfeeding success rates and their patients benefit from all of the advantages of breast milk,” said Elizabeth Kissinger RN, MS, Women and Children’s Services Director. “This partnership, with EMPower gives us the tools and knowledge to promote a culture change with how we support and progress our breastfeeding for our patients.

EMPower is a hospital-based quality improvement initiative focusing on maternity care practices leading to Baby-Friendly designation. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EMPower aims to increase breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and promote and support optimal breastfeeding practices with the ultimate goal of improving the health across the entire country.

 As part of this effort, SMC will receive ongoing support from experienced coaches, as well as training and resource support in lactation education. The effort supports evidence-based practices for prenatal and maternity settings. Not only will the education involve clinical staff but also departments throughout the healthcare system to be a part of the journey to becoming Baby-Friendly. Breastfeeding Coach Gigi Lawless, BSN, RN, and QI Coach Kathy Bradford, MD, will coach Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) during a visit from everything to how marketing and purchasing play into Baby-Friendly to reviewing the hospital’s Baby-Friendly goals.

“EMPower will support our hospital as we implement the steps to become Baby-Friendly,” Kissinger said. “We are trying to change the culture within the healthcare system. Historically, hospital cultures were not conducive to best breastfeeding practice; mother and baby separation, formula supplementation and so on.  But we are working to change that and this is a huge step."

Also as part of these breastfeeding efforts, SRHS recently partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina in a milk donor program to connect low birth weight babies with human breast milk. SRHS is now accepting mother’s milk donations and can store milk at Spartanburg Medical Center.

The EMPower Team is led by Abt Associates, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, and the Center for Public Health Quality.

About EMPower Breastfeeding

EMPower is a three-year hospital-based quality improvement initiative focusing on maternity practices leading to Baby-Friendly designation. The initiative is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). DNPAO is committed to increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and to promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving the public’s health. DNPAO supports evidence-based practices for prenatal and maternity settings known as the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (Ten Steps) and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), an effort to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that complete the Ten Steps.

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through three hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center and Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award. The American Nurses Association lists SRHS among the nation’s top 7 percent of hospitals for excellence in nursing.

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