Accreditation renewal ‘honour’

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Oamaru Hospital’s maternity centre has received another four-year Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative accreditation from the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance.

After an extensive auditing process, the centre was officially presented with its new accreditation, which expires in 2020, at a small function at the hospital last Friday afternoon.

Oamaru Hospital maternity co-ordinator Jackie Ware said hours of work had gone into preparing information for the audit, which requires maternity centres to adhere to World Health Organisation standards.

Areas looked at included breast-feeding education for staff; policies and procedures in place around breast-feeding and artificial feeding, such as expressing, pumping, supplementary feeding and education around the use of formula; and mother and baby health and wellbeing.

Women who had been cared for at the maternity centre were interviewed, while staff had to fill out an 80-page survey and were interviewed for either 45 or 90 minutes.

“It’s quite an honour to get a four-yearly accreditation .. usually the standard is three years, depending on whether you meet the requirements and can provide evidence.

“It’s not a token ‘come in and visit’. What they’re wanting to know is if the staff actually have the knowledge, and how to put it together.”

She said several experienced staff had left or died since the last audit, and relatively inexperienced staff had to put the work in to complete the audit requirements.

“We were really starting from scratch and we didn’t expect four-year accreditation again. It’s a testament to the work everyone has put in this time .. it’s not just about breast-feeding, it’s about what’s healthy for mums and babies.”

New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance learning and development facilitator Dianne Powley presented the award to staff, and said assessors believed Oamaru’s maternity centre was among the best in the country.

“The assessors said this should be the model for around the country.”

She said staff were “passionate about supporting women” and the maternity centre’s resources for Maori were “well developed” and a “wonderful innovation”.

“They couldn’t say enough about you guys,” Mrs Powley said.

“It’s not every day you come along to a place and just go ‘wow’.”

Oamaru Hospital chief executive Robert Gonzales said he was “very proud” of what the maternity centre staff had achieved.

“They really are dedicated midwives and nurses who are making the system work. We’ve faced a lot of challenges but we are continuing to provide the best care we can to our community.”