STTI member pioneers NICU breastfeeding program

By Diane Spatz | 05/15/2015

Diane Spatz named an Academy Edge Runner.

Diane SpatzThe American Academy of Nursing has announced the designation of Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, as an Academy Edge Runner for her nurse-designed model of care to promote breastfeeding in vulnerable infants of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Spatz is a professor of perinatal nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and also is a nurse researcher and director of the lactation program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
 
Edge Runners are part of the Academy’s Raise the Voice campaign, which promotes new evidence-based health care models that better serve patients, lower costs, and have measurable results.
 
“The Academy is proud to recognize Dr. Diane Spatz for her work in creating a replicable and efficient solution for NICUs to use to make it possible for more mothers to breastfeed,” says Academy President Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Patient care models like these developed by Edge Runners are transforming America’s health systems for the better, using nurses as their key instruments for delivery.”
 
Spatz, a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), has served as a faculty adviser for the honor society’s Maternal-Child Health (MCH) Nurse Leadership Academy since 2008.Program administrators note that her passion for maternal-child health has been beneficial not only to the academy as a whole, but also to individual fellows who are inspired by her infectious enthusiasm.Fellows working under her leadership have implemented changes in their individual hospitals and also system-wide changes that benefit mothers and babies across the United States.
 
The goal of Spatz’s program, 10 Steps to Promote & Protect Human Milk and Breastfeeding in Vulnerable Infants, is to close the gap in care at NICUs, where vulnerable infants who are most in need of human milk are the least likely to receive it. Her model of care educates health professionals on best practices for the use of human milk and breastfeeding in NICU infants, focusing on the critical roles nurses play in lactation support. Spatz’s model of care has been implemented to great success in hospitals throughout the United States and abroad.
 
“I created this model because there was no emphasis on helping mothers to breastfeed their infants in the NICU,” says Spatz. “Healthcare providers were not educated on lactation support, and hospitals lacked the resources. The implementation of my 10-step model results in significant improvement in delivering human milk to the infants who most need it in the NICU.”
 
Spatz’s model was first introduced in 2008 at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where she is a nurse researcher specializing in lactation. In 2000, the percentage of NICU infants at CHOP receiving human milk at discharge was approximately 30 percent. As of 2014, and since implementation of Spatz’s model, over 86 percent of infants at CHOP were discharged from the NICU on human milk. There are now more than 600 staff nurses trained to provide evidence-based lactation support and care at CHOP.
 
Sources: American Academy of Nursing; STTI

 
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