Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers. Despite its benefits, Texas has one of the lowest rates in the United States with only 13.7% of Texas mothers exclusively breastfeeding for six months.
Five Baylor hospitals were recently chosen to join a pioneering group of hospitals hoping to reverse this trend. They are among 20 hospitals/facilities in North Texas selected to be part of the “Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative,” a five-year quality improvement project designed to improve facility environments to better support a mother's choice to breastfeed.
“We are excited to join this effort and work together with our fellow members on this unique initiative to improve breast-feeding rates in our state. The opportunity to learn from one another will help us to continue to improve the quality of care offered not just at Baylor hospitals, but all hospitals in Texas. We want to ensure every new mother, no matter where she receives care, will have the support and knowledge to make the best decisions for her own health and her baby’s,” says Janice L. Walker, R.N., BSN, MBA-HCM, NEA-BC, Baylor Health Care System Vice President of Women's Service and CNO, Baylor All Saints Medical Center’s Andrews Women’s Hospital.
The “Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative” aims to help birthing facilities create settings where a woman’s choice concerning breastfeeding can be best supported, with the goal of increasing exclusive breastfeeding.
The effort is being led by NICHQ (the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality) and is funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
What distinguishes this new project is collaboration. What these hospitals learn will be shared among other participants, helping more mothers across the state become more successful in exclusively breastfeeding their babies.
“The 20 facilities are responsible for more than 48,000 births each year,” says NICHQ Project Director Jennifer Ustianov. “Texas has the second largest population of children in the entire country so it has the opportunity to be a leader in improving breastfeeding rates nationwide.”
The five Baylor hospitals included in this group are:
• Baylor All Saints Medical Center-Andrews Women's Hospital
• Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton
• Baylor Medical Center at McKinney
• Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine
• Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas
Breastfeeding provides the best start in life for infants, notes Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ. “Although so many women want to breastfeed their infants, too few women succeed. This project will help hospitals give mothers and their infants a greater chance at success. What these hospitals learn will help other hospitals across the state achieve greater and greater success.”
Up to 81 facilities, segmented into three cohorts based on the state’s designated public health regions, will ultimately participate in the collaborative. The first 20 facilities represent cohort A, or public health regions two and three. Recruitment for cohort B and C facilities will take place in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
NICHQ has a track record of indentifying, designing, and implementing innovative and practical strategies to help healthcare systems improve the quality of care they provide. Facilities participating in the project will learn how to conduct small tests of change, collect data on progress, and ultimately make beneficial, sustainable improvements that support breastfeeding. NICHQ will also bring the teams together virtually and in-person to share lessons, promote collaboration, and learn from improvement and breastfeeding experts.
Learn more about the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, and follow what’s happening with the project on Twitter using the hashtag #TX10Step.