Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton awarded a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Certificate of Designation to Mount St. Mary's Hospital with Planning and Emergency Preparedness Director and certified lactation counselor Elise Pignatora on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Gina Penque, Mount St. Mary's lactation coordinator, and international board-certified lactation consultant; and Maryann Cogdill, R.N., maternity department director, accepted the award on behalf of Mount St. Mary's Hospital.
The award is part of an ongoing public health initiative to solicit partnerships, provide guidance, and support Niagara County businesses that accommodate lactating women in the workplace. Employers who provide accommodations are recognized for meeting or exceeding Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace guidelines.
"Mount St. Mary's is thrilled to be acknowledged as being a leader in supporting our breastfeeding employees and mothers in the community," Cogdill said. "It empowers women in our county to make the best decisions in preventive medicine. Certainly, breastfeeding is the best start for newborns."
The Niagara County Department of Health Lactation Program, managed by Pignatora, aligns with the county mission to reduce infant mortality, illness and hospitalizations, as well as to prevent or lower the incidence of obesity, long-term immune disorders, chronic diseases and developmental delays.
"Breastfeeding benefits children, their families and our entire community," Stapleton said. "Forging partnerships with businesses in this initiative helps bolster health and economic security in our Niagara County communities,"
Officials said exclusively feeding babies human milk for the first 6 months of life and continuing through the first year of life or beyond translates into a remarkable array of short- and long-term health benefits, as well as significant savings for employers and taxpayers.
"As a father of three healthy children, I can attest to the positive effects of breastfeeding on infant health and well-being," Niagara County Legislator and board of health member Richard Andres said. "As a steward of taxpayer dollars, better infant health and less need for formula cuts costs to insurances, as well as to public assistance programs. Accommodating breastfeeding mothers in the workplace means mothers are more likely to continue to work, support their families and contribute to our economy."
According to a cost analysis published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, if 80 percent of U.S. families complied with medical recommendations to breastfeed infants exclusively for the first six months, the U.S. would save $10.5 billion and prevent 741 infant deaths.
"With 40 percent of our hospital employees being women of childbearing age, I saw a real opportunity to do a better job supporting them on their breastfeeding journeys," Penque said. "I knew that, if they felt supported, and valued as mothers by their employer, it would empower them to better care for the patients they serve daily. The response has been tremendous."
The hospital is a leading example of a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. In addition to a highly dedicated lactation consultant to support staff and members of the community, the hospital boasts a dedicated lactation room, offers a monthly breastfeeding support group, operates a milk bank depot and ensures breastfeeding support at an onsite daycare center.
•The St. Francis Guild of Mount St. Mary's Hospital recently presented a check in the amount of $45,000 to the Mount St. Mary's Hospital Foundation. Holding the check is Guild President Maureen Sheeran who was joined by fellow members and officers of the guild at the presentation.
Funds were raised throughout the year from the hospital's gift shop, which is operated by guild volunteers and events such as the Pink Elephant Luncheon and Auction, along with other activities.
•The board of associates of Mount St. Mary's Hospital recently presented a check in the amount of $25,000 to the Mount St. Mary's Hospital Foundation. Holding the check is Executive Director Julie Berrigan. Board of Associates President Al Frosolone, left of Berrigan, was joined by his officers and members.
Funds were raised throughout the year from various activities, including the Fernandez Golf Classic and Guthrie Pancake Breakfast.