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Niagara County Officials Recognize Horizon Health Services Inc.

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Friday, June 7, 2019/Categories: Health

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Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton awarded a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Certificate of Designation to Horizon Health Services Inc. with Planning and Emergency Preparedness Director and Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) Elise Pignatora, on Thursday, May 30. Mrs. Veronica Meldrum, VP of Employee Services and Melissa Wegst, Aurora Village Program Director accepted the award on behalf of Horizon Health Services Inc. This designation serves to help support not only staff and their families but also the women currently receiving support for substance use disorder and their children.

The award is part of an ongoing public health initiative to solicit partnerships, provide guidance, and support Niagara County businesses that accommodate lactating women. Employers that provide accommodations are recognized for meeting or exceeding Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace guidelines. “We are very proud to be recognized as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace,” stated Ms. Meldrum. “Thank you to Elise Pignatora and Dan Stapleton of the Niagara County Department of Health for providing us with the framework for this initiative,” she added.

The Niagara County Department of Health Lactation Program, managed by Ms. Pignatora aligns with the county mission to reduce infant mortality, illness and hospitalizations, as well as to prevent or lower the incidence of obesity, long-term immune disorders, chronic diseases and developmental delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for six months and then breastfeed with the addition of complementary foods for an additional year or more. However, mothers need support to overcome numerous barriers to breastfeeding. More than 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned. “We promote best practices in workplace settings through our Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Designation,” said Director Stapleton. “Expansion of partnerships with businesses in this initiative helps ensure mothers receive support throughout their breastfeeding journey,” he added.

The designation is for the eight (8) Horizon Health Services locations in Niagara County. Horizon Health Services offers several types of employee benefits and services related to breastfeeding, including a written corporate policy to support breastfeeding women; providing designated private space for breastfeeding or expressing milk; offering health insurance with significant high-quality breast pump coverage, etc. With a staff of 82% full-time female employees and approximately 385 of childbearing age, this Niagara County employment site is making a significant contribution toward the health of staff, residents and their families.

For example, Aurora Village, Horizon Health Services Inc.’s 25-bed, women-only center, provides programming to meet the unique needs of women who are struggling with substance use disorders. Residents who wish to express milk are provided space, time and refrigeration resources as needed. Family members of the residents are provided space at their Wellness Center (on campus) to breastfeed or express milk while visiting. “This designation is aligned with our shared mutual goal of healthy moms and healthy babies,” stated Ms.Wegst. According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, drug-exposed infants, who are at a high risk for an array of medical, psychological, and developmental issues, as well as their mothers, stand to benefit significantly from breastfeeding. Additionally, breastfeeding may reduce the severity and duration of treatment of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Lactation support is particularly important for infants experiencing NAS and their mothers.

For information on the Niagara County breastfeeding friendly workplace or child care provider designation, please visit http://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Lactation-and-Breastfeeding.

                                                                     

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