Members in the Media

Two Rivers FHT wins ‘baby-friendly’ status

Cambridge Times article published April 27, 2018. Article in full pasted below.

Lisa Rutledge, Cambridge Times

L-R- Brittany Patterson, Lactation Consultant, Marge LaSalle, The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, Kim Lichty, Retired Lactation Consultant, Chris Cassolato, Executive Director, and Kathryn McGarry, MPP for Cambridge

L-R- Brittany Patterson, Lactation Consultant, Marge LaSalle, The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, Kim Lichty, Retired Lactation Consultant, Chris Cassolato, Executive Director, and Kathryn McGarry, MPP for Cambridge (Photo taken by Two Rivers staff)

Even before her 11-week-old son Hunter was born, Cambridge mother Kara Racco sought out the support and knowledge of breastfeeding experts to give her son the best chance at a healthy start.

Armed with plenty of breastfeeding questions before Hunter’s arrival, and then even more questions about what to expect after he was born, Racco turned to Cambridge’s Two Rivers Family Health Team to get the facts and support she needed to become confident and comfortable with breastfeeding.

“They helped in answering all those questions,” she said. “I don’t know if I could have done it without them.”

The new, first-time mom was one of many on hand Friday to celebrate Two Rivers Family Health Team’s accreditation as a Baby-Friendly Initiative organization. The certification makes it the first family health team in Ontario and the first facility of its kind in Canada to be designated as “baby-friendly” by the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada, the national authority for World Health Organization-Unicef’s Baby Friendly Initiative.

To achieve the status, a health care organization must prove themselves worthy of embracing 10 steps, including full training of all staff on breastfeeding support, promotion of skin-to-skin contact for mother and baby and attempts to nurse within the first hour after birth, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding and nursing on demand and provide support for mothers when challenges arise.

The designation has been much like the birth of a long-awaited baby for staff at the Cambridge family health team, with an often-intense gestation period of nearly eight years.

The team’s staff of 90 employees, ranging from doctors to receptionists, had to undergo intensive training and strict testing to achieve best practice models required to earn the status of a baby-friendly facility.

It’s estimated 93 per cent of mothers indicate they intend to breastfeed, while 89 per cent make an attempt. It was noted during Friday’s event that support has resulted in 80 per cent of mothers nursing beyond six months.

Kim Lichty, a lactation expert who formerly worked at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, joined the Cambridge health team and soon began the long haul to garner baby-friendly designation status.

With that goal finally achieved, Lichty is set to retire with a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing mothers have better access to all the information and support they need to breastfeed.

“I am very proud,” she said before the official announcement and plaque presentation ceremony. “I feel like we are doing our families a great service.”

While the health team baby-friendly service is currently offered to the clinic’s patients, the team will be expanding services to the community, making several appointments a week to nonpatients.

Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry, a former pediatric nurse at SickKids Hospital, said tides are fortunately changing to see more mothers breastfeeding, improving children’s chances at better, long-term health.

“Breastfeeding has been underrated in the role it factors into developing healthy children.”

Click here to access the Cambridge Times article.