By Erika Z. Byrd
Last year 3,251 babies were born at Desert Regional Medical Center. The hospital has long been a trusted choice of expecting parents for its baby-friendly services. And at Desert Regional Medical Center, being baby friendly involves more than just tender loving care. Since 2010, the hospital has been a designated Baby Friendly Hospital by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“We’re very proud of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative designation,” said Stefanie Sonico, Desert Regional Medical Center director of perinatal services. “It was a five-year process for us to achieve this designation that involved adopting policies, procedures and implementing educational programs for our physicians, staff, and patients — all specifically focused on supporting moms in breastfeeding their babies to help them get off to the best possible start.”
The patient education is making a difference. More mothers are breastfeeding their babies at Desert Regional Medical Center than ever before and at a significantly higher rate than the national average. In 2013, 93 percent of mothers breastfed their infants at the hospital. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the national average for breastfeeding at hospital discharge in 2013 was 76.5 percent.
Just as physicians make rounds to check on their patients in the hospital, Desert Regional also has 29 lactation specialists who make rounds to assist new mothers in learning the art of breastfeeding. The lactation specialists also meet with new moms for follow-up visits at the hospital’s Palm Springs or La Quinta Healthy Beginnings outpatient clinics.
The team at Desert Regional Medical Center believes so strongly in the health benefits of breast milk that the hospital has partnered with Mother’s Milk Bank of San Jose, an accredited nonprofit organization, to provide the option of donated breast milk for infants in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. When possible, mothers whose infants require care in the NICU pump and provide their own milk, but some new mothers are not able to produce enough milk, especially if they have been ill or had a very early delivery.
“Human milk is a gift like no other and is definitely the absolute best choice for infants,” said Lori Wood, a NICU clinical nurse specialist at Desert Regional. “We can now offer this choice to babies who couldn’t receive it before.”
From childbirth preparation classes, prenatal care including monitoring of pre-term complications in the hospital-bases perinatal clinic to delivery of low-and high-risk pregnancies and care of critically ill or premature infants in the valley’s only NICU, Desert Regional Medical Center is committed to providing everything new moms and babies need for a healthy beginning. There’s even a retail boutique with nursing and baby supplies. To schedule a tour of the Women and Infants Center, contact Healthy Beginnings at 760-416-4574.
1150 N. Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
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