Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Mentoring Moms

Published in the Spring 2012 Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine

Lactation Specialists Offer Help

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Whether it’s her first child or third, breastfeeding can be difficult for any mother. When something just isn’t working right, Deborah Dixon, BSN, RN, IBCLC, or one of her five board-certified colleagues steps in.

As The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s (JHH) lactation consultant coordinator, Dixon helps mothers and babies master breastfeeding or use supplementation strategies. Since arriving in 2007, she’s enhanced the lactation support program to assist mothers with low milk supply.

“We always prefer human milk to formula, so I introduced evidence-based information

Lactation consultant coordinator Deborah Dixon helps a new mother with breast feeding.

about supplementing at the breast to obstetricians, midwives, and neonatologists,” she says. “Now, we’re the state’s only hospital with a specified supplemental feeding policy.”

JHH lactation specialists complete 20 hours of basic breastfeeding training through courses offered twice annually. In addition, Dixon mentors one nurse toward international board certification in lactation every semester and accepts lactation consultant interns from other education programs.

Under Dixon, the number of breast-feeding mothers has skyrocketed. Previously, only 26 to 42 percent of mothers at JHH initiated breastfeeding. Today, thanks to seven-day-a-week lactation coverage, between 60 and 92 percent do so.

Dixon also collaborates with JHH’s pediatric nurse practitioners to establish specific feeding plans. Recently, she and pediatric nurse practitioner Suzanne Rubin, DNP ’11, MPH, MS ’97, CRNP-P, devised breastfeeding plans for late preterm infants and infants with hyperbilirubinemia.

Lactation guidance isn’t limited to post-delivery days. Mothers can attend bi-monthly prenatal breastfeeding classes. After birth, lactation specialists also call mothers at one-week, one-month, and three-month intervals to assess progress. Weekly new-mother meetings also let women discuss concerns.

Lactation specialists offer free consultations to all JHH staff members too. “If a new mom is having a problem, she can make an appointment to see us,” Dixon explains. An employee pump room within the Hospital is also available.

“We’ve made a huge impact,” Dixon says. “We’re teaching moms to let babies lead the dance. It makes breastfeeding so much easier.”

To read article in its original location: http://magazine.nursing.jhu.edu/2012/04/mentoring-moms/


April 17, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building Better Lives

Published in the Spring 2012 Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine

By Whitney L.J. Howell

If you ask Kelly Hendrix, RN, her work as a general contractor isn’t too different from her work as a nurse in The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Emergency Department. Both use a healing touch.

“You must also be a people person.” Hendrix adds. “As a nurse, you listen to what your patient needs and use your skills to help them. As a contractor, you aren’t trying to make people feel physically better, but you’re trying to make them feel better emotionally by giving them a lovely home.”

Kelly Hendrix gets hands-on rebuilding a deck.

Hendrix and her husband created their home improvement company, Building Solutions, five years ago. They focus on renovating older homes, reclaiming each structure’s former beauty. “I love taking something that has been completely wrecked and turning it into something amazing,” she says. As long as a house has a solid foundation, they can make any other repairs, including framing, plumbing, and electrical work. Much of her role includes talking with the customer to determine preferences and pricing out each job.

It’s also been fun for her to watch the Hospital’s new clinical building come together. In fact, one of the building’s most interesting features parallels one of her favorite parts of contracting—the tile. Made partially from recycled glass, the tiles in the new building sparkle. “When you come across a lot of tile, the shimmer is just a nice touch to see,” she observes.

While Hendrix enjoys working as a contractor, she hopes other women will be inspired by her success. “I want women to stop saying, ‘I can’t do it.’ Watch HGTV. You can do it. It’s easy,” she says. “You don’t have to worry
about calling someone to take care of things. You can look it up online and figure it out.”

To view the article at its original location: http://magazine.nursing.jhu.edu/2012/04/building-better-lives/

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , | Leave a comment

WICU Wins Beacon Award

Published in the Spring 2012 Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine

Second Unit at JHH Honored

By Whitney L.J. Howell

The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Weinberg Intensive Care Unit (WICU) is shining with excellence. The WICU, in the Department of Surgery, received the Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) in November, becoming the only unit in Maryland to receive the award in 2011.

The honor, coupled with the Beacon Award won by the Department of Medicine’s Medical Intensive Care Unit in 2010, recognizes individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every aspect of patient care. It also demonstrates the clinical nurses’ dedication to their work says Sam Young, MS, RN, ACNPC, CCNS, CCRN, the WICU’s clinical nurse specialist.

The AACN’s report recognized the strengths of the unit as its proven interdisciplinary practice, culture of excellence, and leadership. The WICU’s cultivation of shared governance and patient- and-family-centered care is unique. “The unit’s open culture sets us apart,” Young says. “Nurses have opportunities to grow, to be autonomous, and to collaborate with others.”

To facilitate that freedom, WICU nurse manager Donna Prow, BSN, RN, started group meetings. Up to 14 nurses meet for team-building, practice updates, and idea-sharing. “The entire staff has a voice,” says nurse clinician III Carol Maddrey, BSN, RN. “That breeds pride within our unit and gives everyone the confidence that we can make a difference.”

The most significant change has been embracing patient-centered care. The WICU expanded visiting hours to 20 hours a day, making it easier for family and friends to visit. A new “family involvement menu” lets visitors choose ways to help, such as assisting the patient with grooming. Having loved ones nearby also improves patient-nurse-family communication. “Visitors can report subtle personality or behavior changes nurses might not notice,” Young explains.

Young says the WICU receives many thank-you letters, and “performance star” boards posted in the unit allow patients and visitors to recognize staff. “It shows our customers we like what we’re doing,” she says. “The WICU is a good experience for them.”

To read the article in its original location: http://magazine.nursing.jhu.edu/2012/04/wicu-wins-beacon-award/

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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