Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital has earned the coveted international recognition of Baby-Friendly Hospital, joining a select number of such facilities in Houston and Texas. The designation means the hospital meets or exceeds rigorous guidelines that promote high levels of newborn breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding.
“Our Baby-Friendly designation highlights the remarkable efforts our staff and providers have taken to educate new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding,” says Alan Vierling, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FABC, executive vice president and administrator, LBJ Hospital. “Breastfeeding offers the best chance for a healthy start in life. LBJ Hospital continues to lead the way in making a positive impact in our community. This designation reflects our commitment to excellence in patient care.”
Becoming a Baby-Friendly Hospital is a comprehensive process based on meeting multiple evidence-based measures aimed at improving infant and maternal care. The recognition is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the program.
The process to attain Baby-Friendly designation at LBJ Hospital took about four years. During that time, staff was able to improve breastfeeding rates from 3.4 percent to 45 percent.
“The increase in our breastfeeding rate is remarkable,” Vierling says. “Our team kept pushing and kept working hard. Every time they reached a milestone, they set another and exceeded it.”
Derek Curtis, DNP, MA, RN, BSN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer, believes LBJ Hospital’s success is great for the community.
“I’ve always said that LBJ Hospital is Houston’s best kept secret,” he says. “That’s not only because of the employees who work here, but also because of our commitment to our mission. Our team is consistent, committed and they practice selfless service. They always think of the patient first and are proud to represent Harris Health while providing care for those who need it.”
The Baby-Friendly designation is based on scientific evidence that points to breast milk and breastfeeding lowering risks for certain diseases and improving health outcomes for both mothers and babies. With the correct information and the right supports in place, under normal circumstances, most women who choose to breastfeed at LBJ Hospital can successfully achieve their goal.
Maria D’Souza, MHA, MSN, RNC-NIC, NEA-BC, nursing director, LBJ Hospital, recalls the team effort by many to overcome hurdles like not having lactation consultants on staff.
“This has truly been a journey,” she says. “We’ve had tears, we’ve had laughter. We’ve been through it all. I want to thank everyone who has traveled with us on this journey.”
“This is not a Women, Infant and Children’s Services’ award, it’s an LBJ award,” adds Mary Bossier-Bearden, RN, MBA, NE-BC, administrative director, Nursing, LBJ Hospital. “We had great support from staff, leadership, other departments, physician partners and more. This accomplishment shows that we’re better together. “
Worldwide, there are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing centers. In the U.S., 489 facilities are designated Baby-Friendly. The U.S. facilities account for 23.29 percent of annual births (approximately 928,300 births). Ben Taub Hospital, a part of Harris Health, also is a Baby-Friendly facility.