NY State Health Commissioner Visits NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital

Commissioner commends Hospital for breastfeeding support

Apr 8, 2011

Cortlandt Manor, NY

Dozens of infants and their mothers greeted newly-appointed NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah when he visited NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital today to commend the hospital for its breastfeeding support programs that help in the fight against childhood obesity.

a few people holding a plaque

The visit is one of only six stops that the newly appointed Commissioner made during a state-wide tour this week as part of Public Health Week. Dr. Shah was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January and is the first Indian-American health commissioner in the state’s history. Also attending the press conference were Westchester Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Archbald, Putnam County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler and Dutchess County Health Commissioner Michael Caldwell, as well as, more than two dozen mothers and their babies.

Dr. Shah presented the Hospital with an Award of Excellence and spoke of the importance of breastfeeding to an infant’s health and its role in preventing childhood obesity and chronic diseases later in life. "Despite evidence that shows the significant benefits of breastfeeding for both a mother and child, only 43 percent of infants in New York are exclusively breastfed during the first few days of life," Commissioner Shah said. "The State Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with hospitals and health care providers to increase breastfeeding rates so that babies start life healthy and will grow up strong. Hudson Valley Central Hospital has implemented a successful program to boost breastfeeding in the early days of a newborn’s life, and as we recognize their accomplishment, we are looking to improve breastfeeding rates across the state."

NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital’s President John C. Federspiel attributed the Hospital’s success at supporting mothers in breastfeeding to its obstetricians, midwives and Maternity Department nursing staff, in particular to its Certified Lactation Consultant Linda LeMon.

"Nothing is more important than getting children off to the right nutritional start, and that begins with breastfeeding," said Federspiel."We are encouraged that through our partnership with New York State and our extraordinary staff we have been able to increase the number of mothers who choose breastfeeding. We are honored by Dr. Shah’s visit here today, and pleased that we have been chosen to serve as an example of excellence."

NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is one of 12 hospitals in the state which participated in a quality improvement study with the NYS Health Department and the National Initiative of Children’s Healthcare Quality to test new practices that would support new mothers and increase the number who breastfeed their babies. The Hospital was chosen because of its success in getting new mothers to breastfeed. NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital in January had an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 90 percent, meaning that 90 percent of mothers who gave birth there chose breastfeeding as the only way to nourish their babies. It is one of the highest exclusive breastfeeding rates in the state and significantly above the national average.

Alice Mann, a Montrose psychologist who gave birth to her third child at HVHC on March 16, said that despite having to have a C-section to deliver her daughter Stella, she was amazed at the support she received at the Hospital, and how much of a difference it made in getting her on the right track breastfeeding.

"Birth, even by C-section, is much more than a medical event," she said at the press conference. "We are extremely grateful to the hospital staff for giving us the best possible medical and personal care that a mother delivering by C-section could ask for," she said. "So I ask that each of us in this room do what is in our power to make this level of care available to the many mothers in the state of New York, who need it, and whose babies would greatly benefit from it."

The NYS Health Department and other public health agencies promote breastfeeding because it helps prevent disease in young children and chronic diseases later in life. Babies who are breast fed have stronger immune systems and fewer ailments such as diarrhea, respiratory and ear infections, and allergic skin disorders. Studies also show that breast-fed babies are also less likely to develop asthma and obesity.

HVHC is also the only Hospital and Birthing Center in Westchester and Putnam counties to be recognized for breastfeeding support by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. The Hospital has a breastfeeding support group that meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month and offers prenatal education classes, private consultations, telephone triage and a new class on what to expect for grandmothers.

For more information on the programs at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital call 914-734-3896 or visit the Maternity Center section.