PLYMOUTH — In recognition of its commitment to racial equity in supporting breastfeeding in the hospital setting, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth has received the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Breastfeeding Excellence Award.
BID-Plymouth was one of only 15 maternity hospitals in the state to receive this recognition at the recent Breastfeeding in the Bay State virtual conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.
“Achieving excellent patient outcomes for new families, which includes optimal infant nutrition, is of the utmost importance,” said Linda Burke, Director of The BirthPlace at BID Plymouth. “We are honored to be recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for our efforts to support breastfeeding and foster equitable care for the diverse patients and families we serve.”
To support families who do not speak English or who speak English as a second language, many of whom speak Portuguese, BID-Plymouth provides interpreting services in person, over the phone or via remote video interpreting services. The care team also has a dedicated iPad intended for use only by interpreters to support patient communications. The hospital also paid careful attention to the design of its breastfeeding education materials to ensure that the images used reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of its patients.
“We are grateful to our exceptional care team, who put our new parents and their babies first, working so hard to prepare these families for successful infant nutrition by providing accessible educational support and materials,” said Kevin Coughlin, president of BID-Plymouth. . “Healthy nutrition is essential for newborns, and we are grateful to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for recognizing our team’s hard work and commitment to our patients.”
DPH’s area of focus in 2021 was “Improving Racial Equity in Hospital-Based Breastfeeding Support.” Here are examples of best practices:
- Increase access to standardized maternity care practices that support breastfeeding for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity
- Review breastfeeding data by race and ethnicity to inform planning and ensure equitable access to services
- Hire breastfeeding support staff, such as internationally board-certified lactation consultants, certified lactation counselors, and peer counsellors, who represent the community served in terms of race, ethnicity, culture and of language
- Increase access to breastfeeding education materials/courses in a variety of languages
- Use marketing and educational materials that feature families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds
BID-Plymouth is also a designated baby-friendly hospital. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in 1991 to promote, support and encourage breastfeeding.