Hospitals Go Green with Safe Skincare for Babies

As part of an eighteen-month nurse leadership program, nurses from the Berry Women’s Health Pavilion at Miami Valley Hospital researched and developed a safer approach for mom and baby care. Their Green Maternity program is the first step in their Green Initiative, and it assures that babies born at MVH have the safest start possible. Earth Mama products were scrutinized and tested with everyone from the NICU pediatrician to nursing staff to the Clinical Pharmacologist in order to make sure the products were not only safe, but also practical for hospital use. After the extensive vetting process, MVH now proudly uses Natural Non-scents Hand to Toe Wash and Angel Baby Oil on their new babies and NICU babies. Mentor Catherine Burns wrote the following Leadership Journey about Anne Brower, the remarkable catalyst for this innovative program.

A Leadership Journey: Bringing Chemical Free Products to Neonates by Catherine Burns, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

September 23, 2011

Anne Brower, BA, RN, IBCLC, ICCE, CD, is a registered nurse on a mission to reduce chemical exposures to babies. As a Lactation Consultant and Childbirth Educator at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH, she wanted to make a difference for the families delivering babies there – to reduce the chemicals used in baby products to cleanse neonates at the hospital and to teach families to read labels for fewer chemical in the products they will buy for home use.

Lisa Trefz, a colleague and friend, encouraged Anne to apply for the Maternal Child Leadership Academy cosponsored by Sigma Theta Tau International and Johnson & Johnson Institute, using Anne’s goal as the vehicle to learn new leadership skills. Anne was accepted to the 18 month program as a mentee with Lisa as her mentor.

The Academy accepts 20 teams of maternal child nurses from across the country at a time, provides workshops and activities to learn to lead an interdisciplinary team and provides a faculty person from the Academy to provide oversight and support for the mentee/mentor team’s work. Catherine Burns, PhD, CPNP, a Professor Emeritus from Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing, was their faculty person from the MCH Academy.

Anne had a team co-leader, Donna Walls, who is a colleague and nurse with a common interest. With Hospital Administration’s approval, they formed a team of 10 nurses from the perinatal departments, a patient care technician, a pediatrician, maternity director, and a pharmacist. Stakeholders including sourcing, marketing, administration, risk management and infection control were consulted as well. The team, with guidance from Anne, Donna, and Lisa developed a “logic model” to guide their project, moving from goals and objectives to identification of key stakeholders, steps to implement the plan, and outcomes they would consider to indicate that the project was successfully implemented with a sustainability plan in place. Measures of progress were also identified and data gathered along the way.

A major step was selection of chemical free products for the hospital. After much discussion and identification of Earth Mama Angel Baby products, they

  • studied natural products available for safety and efficacy, including FDA regulations for natural products (evidence-based practice was a key value),
  • worked with Purchasing to look at costs and savings,
  • obtained approval of safety from Infection Control and a Clinical Pharmacologist,
  • worked with Earth Mama Angel Baby personnel to look at labeling, assurance of quality with laboratory testing, packaging, shelf life, and other issues.
  • worked with the Legal Department for a contract with Earth Mama Angel Baby discussed promotion of the hospital’s decision to Marketing,
  • set up a plan for staff education to teach nurses on the mother baby units and nurseries about the advantages of the new products,
  • incorporated appropriate education into expectant parent classes included information for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Director to assure use in that department also,
  • met with physician groups including Obstetrics and Pediatrics to inform them of the new products and their advantages, arranged with the Gift Shop for sales of the new products to visitors,
  • presented their project to Triforce, their hospital-wide nursing shared governance committee, which stirred enthusiasm in other units to start to look at unhealthy products being used by nurses and finally,
  • considered the issues to assure stocking and restocking of the products on the nursing units.

Along the way, they had a new-Mom/nurse test the products at home with her baby, and provided the products to the NICU where they helped to moisturize/balance a premature baby’s skin allowing the baby to stay out of humidity and in her parents arms sooner. The leadership opportunities were used to her advantage.

Safe for newborns, safe for the NICU.

Indeed, Anne’s idea became an 18 month project with positive outcomes in terms of healthy babies, her own leadership development, leadership lessons for the team, Hospital cost savings, marketing opportunities for the concept in the community, and success of another project for Sigma Theta Tau International and Johnson & Johnson Institute Maternal Child Leadership Academy. Along the way, Anne was promoted and plans on entering a Master’s degree program in Environmental Health Nursing. The emblem for the project was a Green DOT with the motto “Do One Thing” for children’s health.

Photo Credit: Natural Non-scents Hand to Toe Wash (aka “green baby wash”) in use at Miami Valley Hospital on Sept. 6, 2011 © 2011 Photograph by Skip Peterson



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