A Toast! Here's to The Carson Tahoe Women and Children's Center! | Carson Tahoe Health

A Toast! Here’s to The Carson Tahoe Women and Children’s Center!

We are beyond thrilled to “Toast” the wonderful Carson Tahoe Women and Children’s Center!!!!

Recently, after years of hard work and dedication from their stellar staff, Carson Tahoe Health was awarded the Baby-Friendly Designation. Carson Tahoe is the ONLY hospital in Nevada to achieve the prestigious designation and we are so lucky to have such an amazing team of experts in our community!

We caught up with one of the shining stars who helped make it all happen, Kathy Molina,  Carson Tahoe’s  Director of Women and Children’s Services  who shared with us more about what a Baby-Friendly hospital means for families in our area! 

First, tell us why you felt it was important for Carson Tahoe Health to undergo the process of being designated as a “Baby-Friendly” Hospital?

 Part of this was very intuitive for many of us involved in the initial journey. As women, mothers, and nurses, we had always known that women and their infants needed to remain together immediately after birth and for as long as possible in the weeks and months that followed. We knew there was a natural instinct that caused mothers and infants to seek each other and we knew that within that “bond” was the living, protecting ingredient called “breast milk”. Scientifically, we were learning more about the benefits of breastfeeding and we knew that much of what hospitals did to care for mothers and babies actually interfered with breastfeeding success. (Separating newborns from their mothers right after birth; offering formula to breastfeeding babies; feeding on schedule and not on demand; etc.)  In about 1995-96, one of our nurses attended a weeklong training in preparation to become a lactation consultant. When she returned she shared what she had learned and provided information on ways we could become a Baby-Friendly hospital. We engaged staff, physicians, and administrators in our goal and the journey began.

What exactly does “Baby-Friendly” mean?

Baby-Friendly is a designation given by the Baby-Friendly USA organization in conjunction with WHO/UNICEF to hospitals that meet all requirements of Baby-Friendly and pass their on-site survey. Baby-Friendly hospitals, by meeting the requirements, protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  

Tell us about the process to become a designated Baby-Friendly hospital?

The process was long, arduous, and one of the most rewarding experiences most of us have known in our professional careers. It was like “giving birth.” First, it seemed like an impossible dream. Our belief that this was the right thing, the best thing, to do for our mothers and their infants as well as for the community gave us the determination to move forward. We first needed support from administration and our physicians. Still, it would require significant cost to train the staff and physicians. (Cost and the fact that on-line education was not available when we first began our journey to be Baby-Friendly in the ‘90s, slowed our journey.)  Our wonderful hospital foundation agreed to fund much of the project. Our staff and physicians had to invest many hours in formal training. One of our lactation consultants, Mary Scott, dedicated herself to providing hands-on training to staff while conducting support groups for breastfeeding mothers. Her work was pure devotion and it was her experience in Seattle that gave impetus to the entire journey. There were several assessment phone calls to the Baby-Friendly organization. Following each call we assessed practice and policy and made the necessary enhancements. We had to carry our quest throughout the organization. Even the gift shop was required to change some of the products they were selling to comply with the Baby-Friendly ten steps. We needed evidence from supply chain management that we were not purchasing formula and that we were paying market price the formula we did purchase. We quickly learned that “it takes a village” to become Baby-Friendly. Lastly, we were surveyed. The three surveyors examined every policy, interviewed administration, physicians, staff, and patients. If during any part of the survey, we had failed to meet the standards, we would not have received the designation. Waiting the six weeks was the final, most stressful part of the journey. While we knew we were doing all we could to be Baby-Friendly, we had worked so hard (like labor) and we were so anxious for the results.

Why is Baby-Friendly important and what can moms expect when delivering at Carson Tahoe Health?

Baby-Friendly is important because it promotes and supports breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is undisputedly the best for both mother and baby. Science continues to provide evidence that breastfeeding is life-saving and life-sustaining for babies. There is also evidence that it provides important health benefits for mothers who breastfeed. There are psychological benefits for infants, mothers, and families. Breastfeeding is also good for businesses that support breastfeeding in their employees (fewer sick days). Additionally, breastfeeding is good for the community and the economy. Carson Tahoe Health is committed to providing support for mothers who choose to breastfeed. We know that many women who had thought they couldn’t breastfeed or didn’t have enough milk in previous births, might have had very different experiences if they had been given the education and support that is offered by Carson Tahoe Health.

Best thing about Carson Tahoe Health?

The best thing about Carson Tahoe Health is the patients. They are our reason for being. They are the reason we invest in and use evidence-based practices, state-of-the-art technology, and adhere to policy and practices that improve the quality of care.  

Anything else to add? 

We are so proud of this achievement. We look forward to celebrating the many new lives that will get their healthy beginnings at Carson Tahoe. How grateful are we that their parents chose us! 

Here’s to you, Carson Tahoe Women &  Children’s Center, your support and commitment to families in our community deserves a huge “Cheers!” indeed!