Missouri Health Dept. Dubs Springfield, Mercy 'Breastfeeding Friendly'

By Matt Lupoli | mlupoli@kolr10.com

Published 03/24 2014 10:15PM

Updated 03/24 2014 10:33PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The City of Springfield and Mercy Hospital are both the first of their kind to earn the Missouri Department of Health's "Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Award."

State officials presented the awards at Mercy Kids Hospital on Monday afternoon, and it wasn't Mercy's only accolade.

"Of course I mean you want to give them everything you can," Tiffany Thornton said.

Thornton gave birth to her son, Matthew, just four days ago at Mercy Hospital.

The hospital also received a separate award, the Show-Me Five, for its efforts to help mothers and newborns with breastfeeding and care.

"I had both of my children here at Mercy. I have definitely noticed a difference in how they've changed things and are focusing more on breastfeeding, and I think it's great," Thornton said.

"Breastfeeding is absolutely free, it costs nothing and it's nature's way of doing it," Cindy Whitten, vice president of women's services and Mercy Kids, said.

Whitten said the Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite is especially important to Mercy, the first medical system to receive it, since she said helping our co-workers is a big part of fostering a healthy population.

The city of Springfield is also the first municpality to receive the breastfeeding worksite award.

"The award is given to employers who are friendly to those who are breast feeding. It's employee-friendly and family-friendly," the city's Director of Human Resources Sheila Maerz said. 

Maerz and Whitten said the award is not just the result of providing a quiet place to pump or nurse. They said the key is to create a culture of support.

"We've really just tried to build a momentum. We've had new policies that tell supervisors what's required and how to be supportive in the workplace," Maerz said.

"About 77 percent of women initiate breast feeding, the problem is that it's very difficult for women in the United States to sustain it," Whitten said. "It takes a team effort to do the things required to do."

Thornton said she is thankful that she will be afforded the same consideration when she goes back to work.

"It's great to have those kinds of opportunities," she said.

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