– Press release
Northern Inyo Hospital’s NEST program received a state level award of excellence for supporting exclusive breastfeeding among new mothers.
Natalie Marcus, the hospital’s Maternal Child Family Coordinator, accepted one of the California Breastfeeding Coalition’s first-ever Golden Nugget awards during the fifth annual Breastfeeding Summit held in Garden Grove on Jan. 28.
NIH’s NEST – or Newborn Evaluation, Support & Teaching – program was among seven of 22 health care agencies selected to receive the Golden Nugget, which honors local groups that go above and beyond the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.
Marcus said NIH won the award for identifying and reducing lactation problems. According to the Surgeon General’s report, this can vary from physical discomforts, to the mother receiving mixed educational messages from different providers. Since its inception last January, NIH’s NEST strives to empower, support and assist Inyo County mothers so they feel prepared and confident for their birthing experience, and ultimately choose to exclusively breastfeed their infant for a minimum of six months.
The NEST team embraced five specific actions to reduce breastfeeding barriers. The team gave mothers direct support; used community-based organizations for additional support and promotion; developed continuity of message between health care professionals; provided education of the message to the professionals; and, ensured access to services provided by its International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Marcus said direct support is the foundation of NEST. “We provide a minimum of three visits and follow-up phone calls at one month, three months, six months and one year after birth,” Marcus said. “All mothers planning to deliver at NIH meet with our team prior to delivery, and then we have an inpatient lactation visit after the birth of their baby, plus an appointment to return within 48 hours of discharge, and access to breastfeeding support services during the entire course of breastfeeding.”
By teaming up with Inyo County First 5 and strengthening relationships with the Inyo County Health Department, WIC, the local obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics offices, and Toiyabe Indian Health Project, Marcus said the breastfeeding message gained ground. “We’re a small community, so it’s necessary that we all work together toward common goal,” Marcus said.
Marcus said one benefit of the team effort has been better communication. “Being a program of the hospital, we work closely with the OB/GYN and pediatric offices. If those offices are seeing a mother or infant with breastfeeding problems or concerns, they will refer them to NEST,” Marcus explained. “In the same respect, at the 48-hour follow up, we have systems in place to notify the pediatricians of any weight, feeding or jaundice concerns in the infant. Again, success comes from working together.”
A unified message was solidified when grant funding from Inyo County First 5 allowed the NEST program to bring lactation education program founder Gini Baker to Bishop for a two-day seminar, attended by Inyo and Mono county health department and hospital employees, WIC, First 5, Toiyabe Indian Health, and other community partners. “It was a wonderful time of learning, and it was amazing to have so many different representatives from different departments come together as one,” Marcus said.
Marcus credits teamwork for the rise and success of the NEST program. “It’s been incredible to watch this program grow out of just an idea a little more than a year ago,” she said. “It took a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone involved to make NEST a reality. Overall, the program has been a huge success. The feedback we are getting from patients and clients have been extremely encouraging, then to receive the award, well, that was just so inspiring for our team.”
Last November, a CDC national survey gave Northern Inyo Hospital high marks in its efforts to make breastfeeding the best option for the health of new mothers and their babies. The hospital scored above the state and national averages for use of best practices in infant nutrition and care.
Northern Inyo Hospital’s NEST program aims to promote exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months and continual breastfeeding as long as it is mutually desirable for both mother and baby.
Those interested in additional information about the NEST program may call (760) 873-2191 or email the NEST team at NEST@nih.org.