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Mon Health birth center earns state’s first distinction from World Health Organization


Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  — Mon Health Medical Center is being recognized as the first Baby-Friendly USA designated birth center in the state.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative approved Mon Health on May 8 after a 19-month process that included various trainings and a hospital inspection.

Mon Health Medical Center has earned Baby-Friendly designation from the World Health Organization. Stephanie and Nathan Bartlett are now parents to six-day old Eliana Bartlett.
(Photo by Kelsie LeRose)

This world-wide initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birth center that offer the best care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Darryl Duncan, Mon Health president and CEO, said the birth center has earned the international recognition for encouraging, supporting and promoting breastfeeding.

“While 20,000 hospitals or birth centers in the world are designated as Baby-Friendly, there are only 429 such designated centers throughout the United States. We are the first in West Virginia, and that puts one in every state of the United States.”

Duncan added that supporting breastfeeding is part of the mission to enhance the health of the communities Mon Health serves one person at a time.

“Research shows that breastfed babies have lower risk of developing chronic health problems such as asthma, obesity and diabetes,” Duncan said. “For mothers, breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and type two diabetes.”

Dr. William Hamilton, Mon Health Medical Center chief of obstetrics, said that successful breastfeeding has always been the goal.

“The nursing staff here has been a strong supporter of breastfeeding even before the Baby-Friendly initiative came along. That doesn’t happen everywhere,” he said. “They have always done an incredible job.”

Hamilton added Mon Health has four lactation consultants, which is about three more then the average for the hospital its size. The WHO, American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control supports breastfeeding.

The breastfeeding initiative ideally starts before pregnancy so they are educated, during the pregnancy and lastly with the hospital stay, Hamilton said.

Jill Buterbaugh, RN, and Mon Health Family Birth Center Director said the journey to this designation began in 2015 with dedicated staff members and a multidisciplinary team of many.

Throughout the process and at Mon Health, teamwork is a common theme.

“I am very proud to say teamwork is a piece of our mission, vision and values here at Mon Health,” she said. “This is evident by everybody participating at every level. Without you all, we could have never done this.”

Stephanie and Nathan Bartlett are now parents to six-day old Eliana Bartlett.

“We had the most amazing experience (here),” she said. “The delivery process went as smooth as it possibly could — a healthy baby and healthy mom was most important to us. The care that the staff provided was exceptional.”

Stephanie Bartlett added that everything has been perfect so far with breastfeeding as Eliana is nursing effectively and gaining weight.

“The (staff) has been so supportive and helpful in checking in on me and checking in on the baby, answering any questions that we have had,” she said. “With their help that is how we have become so successful with breastfeeding.”

Pamela Poe, perinatal education program coordinator and lactation consultant, said she sees every patient. She added that the designation is very important for the hospital.

“For years and years and years before we reached this designation, we have always promoted, protected and supported breastfeeding,” Poe said. “Breastfeeding does a world of good for every single baby, every single mom and every single family in the world.”

Poe has been at her position at the hospital for 11 years and one piece of advice that she gives mothers is to not give up on breastfeeding.

“Most mothers I meet give up way to soon,” she said. “Reach out and get support from a lactation consultant, lactation counselor, a relative or friends who have breastfed. Reach out and don’t give up too soon.”

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