Children born or cared for at the Mandeville Regional Hospital in Manchester are in for the best developmental support, with the institution now internationally certified as a Baby Friendly Hospital (BFH).
To be baby friendly means giving every baby the best start in life by creating a healthcare environment that supports breastfeeding.
This is in keeping with the global campaign established to prepare health systems and mobilise healthcare workers to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The initiative is also part of Government’s thrust to provide a framework that enables mothers to acquire the skills they need to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months (180 completed days), followed by complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
A baby-friendly healthcare facility also assists mothers who are not breastfeeding to make informed decisions and care for their babies in the best possible way.
Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne, indicated that the hospital’s milestone is not easy to attain.
She emphasised that the team approach used during the preparatory stage must be part of the daily service delivery so that the institution can remain certified.
“I hope that this team approach also materialises in the rest of the work that you have to do,” the Director stated, while addressing a recent ceremony at the institution to celebrate the certification.
She also lauded the Government for continued investments in the health sector, noting that some countries have made budgetary cutbacks in this area.
“I continue to see the commitment of Minister Tufton and the Minister of Finance, to invest in health,” she told the audience.
Another partner in the initiative is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The organisation’s Representative in Jamaica, Mariko Kagoshima, said the accreditation is hugely significant and means that the hospital “has met international standard and has created a healthcare environment that prioritises our children.”
For Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, the hospital’s advancement is important and will minimise premature deaths in children.
He noted that the healthcare system is being strengthened to ensure that more of the Ministry’s technical personnel visit homes and work with current and prospective parents.
“We need that prompting in order to get back on track, so that those who choose to have children do so in a manner that is safe for themselves and safe for the children,” the Minister said.
Consultant in Paediatrics and Gynaecology at the hospital, Dr. Donna-Marie Gray-Henry, stated that prior to the certification, all categories of the institution’s staff had to be trained in the proper growth of babies.
“The Mandeville Hospital will continue to evolve into a state-of-the-art maternity unit. We will continue to improve the infrastructure, the equipment and manpower, and it is more than accreditation, it is a commitment to provide excellent patient care,” Dr. Gray-Henry told the audience.
A facility that is designated Baby-Friendly implements the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding.
Among them are carrying out prenatal care in keeping with maternal and child health and hospital norms; early detection and referral of high-risk pregnancies and obstetric emergencies; establishing and maintaining a system of quality assurance; providing appropriate health education for pregnant women; promoting and providing family planning services; teaching women proper self-examination techniques with appropriate follow-up for early detection of breast cancer; and encouraging mothers to do routine tests to facilitate early detection of cancers of the reproductive system.
Built in 1877, the Mandeville Regional Hospital is a Type B institution which caters to just over 1,000 clients daily.
The facility, which is administered by the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), was initially called the Mandeville Public Hospital.
Sixty-one years after it was built, expansion came with the addition of tuberculosis wards. The new wards provided accommodation and facilitated inpatient care for persons with illnesses that were common during the period.
In 1955, there was further development as the sum of £20,000 was spent to build a new hospital to meet the growing healthcare needs of the population.
The Kendal train crash in 1957 brought to the fore, the need for further development and expansion of the institution.
The outpatient services, which up to that point were offered offsite, had to be relocated to the hospital grounds where it remains and is widely used by persons from Clarendon, Manchester, Trelawny, and St. Elizabeth.
A maternity ward was established in 1964 with 40 beds and three semi-private rooms.
In 1971, new modem x-ray equipment was added to improve diagnostic services and the outpatient department began to offer surgery, medicine, ophthalmology, psychiatry, dermatology, dental care, and dietetics.
In 1978 the drug window services came on stream. In that same decade, in 1977 at the 100th anniversary of the hospital, a building fund was launched in a bid to have a paediatric ward added.
In the mid-1980s, another new service was added when the Fertility Control Unit became functional.
In 1997, under the National Health Sector Rationalisation Programme, the hospital was redeveloped and refurbished at a cost of $700 million.
In July 2000, the new section of the hospital which stands as a showpiece and landmark in the town centre, was completed and the services offered in the old facility were transferred to the new building that now exists.
During this time, the Mandeville Public Hospital was upgraded and renamed Mandeville Regional Hospital.
The official celebration and dedication ceremony was held on April 3, 2001.