Thursday, August 16, 2012

Action Step 8: Continuity of Care

This is the third in our series of articles based on the the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee has suggested a specific focus for each day of August. Today we're actually looking at the focus from Wednesday.  The text below comes from Pages 45-46 of the Surgeon General's document.

Action 8. Develop systems to guarantee continuity of skilled support for lactation between hospitals and health care settings in the community. 

Image from Wikipedia
Upon discharge from their stay in the hospital, many mothers are unable to find and receive skilled breastfeeding support. Mothers often are left on their own to identify resources to help with questions and problems they may have with breastfeeding. Furthermore, hospitals, clinicians in the community, and community organizations typically lack systems to help connect mothers to skilled persons who can offer support for breastfeeding. Ideally, there would be a system to ensure that breastfeeding mothers and their infants would receive skilled support with lactation from informed and available health care teams. Hospitals, primary care clinicians, and community organizations share responsibility for creating such systems.

Implementation Strategies 
Create comprehensive statewide networks for home- or clinic-based follow-up care to be provided to every newborn in the state. Follow-up support for breastfeeding needs to be integrated into home visitation and postpartum care programs. Staff training in breastfeeding management would be fundamental to this care.

Establish partnerships for integrated and continuous follow-up care after discharge from the hospital. Communities often provide a variety of resources to help breastfeeding mothers, including peer support networks, breastfeeding clinics, lactation consultants, and support groups. Health care systems can ensure that their patients are informed about such resources and can facilitate connections to these resources. They can also help to strengthen or create these programs.

Establish and implement policies and programs to ensure that participants in WIC have services in place before discharge from the hospital. Community partners and key stakeholders, such as hospitals, lactation consultants, and other clinicians, can work with WIC to establish continuity of care for WIC participants who breastfeed their infants. In addition, WIC state agencies can collaborate with state hospital associations to identify key barriers to the provision of WIC services within the hospital setting. WIC state agencies and hospitals can partner to establish policies to ensure that WIC participants receive in-hospital
education and support for breastfeeding, including identiication of a WIC peer counselor and scheduling of follow-up support for breastfeeding by WIC staf in the community.

Getting Involved

We try to work as closely as we can with our local hospitals and physicians.  We deliver rental breastpumps to patients in their hospital rooms at Crestwood Hospital. Our Postpartum Support program is a tremendous resource for new mothers who don't have family nearby to help them after baby is born.

Our Bosom Buddies program is specifically designed to help WIC moms by providing them nursing bras. Furthermore, our sliding scale for lactation consultation services in our office ensures that no mother who needs help will ever be refused it due to her inability to pay for an IBCLC.

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