NORTHAMPTON — The state Department of Public Health awarded Cooley Dickinson’s Childbirth Center its 2015 Breastfeeding Achievement Award in recognition of the center’s commitment to lactation support.
For employee Jessica Hebert, who returned from maternity leave in October, the award confirmed something she already knew and values in her employer: access to a comfortable, private space to pump her breast milk during her eight-hour shift.
The room, within the hospital’s Childbirth Center, offers access to a breast pump, comfortable chairs, a refrigerator, and an adjoining bathroom. Hebert, who works as a coordinator in the Patient Registration department, likes the room because it is away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital, where she can relax.
Lori Leistyna, internationally board-certified lactation consultant, is proud of the award and that Cooley Dickinson offers these services for new mothers. “When it comes to breastfeeding at work, women have limited options. Often, they pump in bathrooms, offices, or even their cars. Here, we really offer the gold standard in lactation support.”
Judy Hatch, internationally board-certified lactation consultant, nominated Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Childbirth Center for the award. To gather feedback for the nomination, Hatch surveyed women who used the room, took photos, and asked how the space could be improved.
“Most women were very pleased with the room, found it private, comfortable, and easily accessible,” she said. “They suggested adding a refrigerator, a privacy screen, and adding a second lactation room location within the hospital.”
Hatch reports that the refrigerator has been added, and she is working on implementing the other suggestions. “This room is used frequently, and it is a vital part of ensuring employees are happy and supported in their efforts to provide their infant with primary prevention through breast milk.”
In the award letter to Cooley Dickinson President and CEO Joanne Marqusee, Ellen Tolan, state breastfeeding coordinator, commended CDH “for the dedication and care you provide to mothers and newborns as well as your employees.”