The Rhonda Kay Skelton Birthing Center at Mercy Hospital is proud to announce that it has achieved prestigious international recognition as a designated Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA. This designation is awarded to hospitals that demonstrate a high commitment to excellence in breastfeeding education and support while caring for their patients.
Mercy is one of only two Critical Access Hospitals in Minnesota with this designation and is one of 13 total Baby-Friendly hospitals in the state.
“Earning the Baby-Friendly designation is a great achievement – one that we are extremely excited about and proud of,” said Katie Olson, RN, Mercy Inpatient Manager. “Our Labor and Delivery nurses went through extensive training to learn how best to support our new families in infant feeding and support. The group came together as a team and worked extremely hard to reach this goal, one that was just a dream over 10 years ago when Rhonda Skelton started this journey with the staff.
“This was an effort among everyone at Mercy and we could not have achieved this recognition without the support of all hospital staff, physicians, administration and our dedicated OB team who worked so hard on this project,” she added.
Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
What this means at Mercy Hospital:
As part of the Baby-Friendly initiative, all healthy newborns at Mercy Hospital are placed immediately skin-to-skin on their mothers at birth. Babies are not interrupted for unnecessary medical procedures as they bond with their parents and make their first feeding attempts – and they stay with their parents throughout their time in the hospital.
Parent and infant bonding is further promoted by Mercy Hospital’s low (13%) for low-risk, first-time cesarean deliveries. This rate is significantly better than the national average which is around 27%.
“This is an important statistic as it is proven that there is a link between method of delivery and the successful initiation of breastfeeding,” Olson explained. “Mothers that have had a cesarean may have a more difficult time feeding their baby during the first few days after surgery.”
The Birthing Center completed the Baby-Friendly assessment by going through an on-site survey in December in which assessors from Baby-Friendly interviewed staff and patients and reviewed hospital practices and policies. Some of the comments in the final survey report included:
Comments from the Baby-Friendly surveyors:
- For a small facility, the staff has utilized some creative ways to provide required breastfeeding education and supervised clinical experience.
- The facility offers breastfeeding, childbirth, and newborn care classes to the community free of charge. The facility partners with the public health nurses in surrounding counties, as well as with the county WIC offices. The facility partners with other area programs to provide a community baby shower for expectant mothers twice a year.
Comments from interviewed patients:
- I have had 4 kids at 4 different hospitals. The staff here was very accommodating and attentive to my needs. They gave me space because it’s my 4th baby. I felt very comfortable here. I’m very happy with my care.
- Awesome! I felt very supported. The nurses are great!
- I was really impressed overall. This was my best birth experience (of 4). Everything was done that I wanted.
- They’ve been doing a wonderful job, even with an unexpected C-section.
For more information about Mercy’s Birthing Center, please call 218-485-5834.