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WakeMed Pursuing Baby Friendly Hospital Designation

WakeMed Discontinuing Pacifier Availability and Formula Sample Distribution on Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day, Sunday, WakeMed Women’s Pavilion & Birthplaces – Raleigh and Cary are taking major steps to become a Baby Friendly hospital as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  WakeMed is the first hospital in the region to pursue this designation, and conform to the standards outlined in the Ten Steps to Breastfeeding.

One of the first steps in the journey to encourage breastfeeding is to discontinue the distribution of the formula samples and diaper bags provided for free by the formula companies. While WakeMed will provide formula to infants for feeding when it is requested by the parent or guardian, the hospital will no longer distribute formula samples. WakeMed will also no longer have pacifiers available on demand in the Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace. These changes will go in to effect on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8.

By reviewing where the hospital stands and adapting these ten steps, WakeMed is confirming its belief that breast milk is the best form of nutrition for infants. Currently, the Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace – Cary has a 98 percent breastfeeding rate, and the Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace – Raleigh has a 72 percent breastfeeding rate, both of which are well above the national average. With the ten step process, the hospital can continue to improve these rates, and give mothers the support and confidence they need to commit to breastfeeding,

“The staffs at both WakeMed Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital are working closely with the lactation consultants so they can offer new mothers the information and support they need. Our hope is that mothers leave WakeMed with the confidence and knowledge they need to continue breastfeeding their babies,” commented Elizabeth Rice, director, Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace.  “Of course, we will continue to provide support and education equally to those who chose to bottle feed their newborns.”

Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming-in — allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Click here if you would like additional information on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.


Help WakeMed ENERGIZE! be Nationally Recognized

ENERGIZE!, WakeMed’s community-based fitness and nutritional education program for teens and pre-teens, has been selected as one of three programs nationwide to qualify for recognition by the Department of Health & Human Services.  We need your help to win this high-profile recognition.  Please visit this web site to vote for ENERGIZE! Voters can only vote for a submission once between now and May 31.

ENERGIZE! Is a community based healthy lifestyle program for children and adolescents.  ENERGIZE! participants are referred to the program by their physician if they have four of five risk factors for developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.  And, the program, which has helped almost 600 children, adolescents, and their families achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle in our community is free for participants.  Want to learn more about ENERGIZE! or think your child might be a good candidate for the program? Please click here to learn more.  And, don’t forget to vote for ENERGIZE! to win national recognition.


Tornado Watch or Warning – When do you seek shelter?

Meteorologists are getting much more accurate predicting when conditions are right for violent storms and tornadoes.  But, what do you do if your area is under a warning or a watch?  The answers are not as simple as you might think, and as we learned during the recent tornadoes there were a lot of questions.  The basic guidelines are as follows:


If your area is under a tornado WATCH, this means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop and you need to WATCH out for them.  And, when a tornado WATCH is issued for your area, like it is for ours today, it is a good time to prepare your safe place in your home; Gather items like water, weather radio with extra batteries, snacks, blankets, and flashlights.   Keep a radio or TV on tuned to a local station, so you will have access to the most up-to-date storm information.

If you live in a mobile home and a tornado WATCH is issued for your area, seek shelter in a more permanent structure immediately.

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable during bad storms, and any time there is a tornado watch and you are in a mobile home, you and your family need to seek shelter in a more stable building like a neighbor’s stick-built home, hospital, library, bank, fire department, rest stop, or government building.  (Note that strip malls, big box stores, and fast food restaurants are not typically safe places to ride out a storm because of the type of construction). 

Additionally, it is important to limit travel during a tornado watch.  One of the most dangerous places you can be during a tornado is in your car.


WARNING means that a funnel cloud has been spotted in your area.  Go to your safe place immediately.  Do not hesitate.  If possible, bring your smart phone or laptop with you, so you can track the storm’s progress and direction.  Stay in your safe place until the storm passes. 

Even if the storm looks like it will barely miss your area, it is a good idea to go to your safe place anyway.  Meteorologists are quite good at predicting storm paths today thanks to advances in technology, but this is not a perfect science and there is still a margin of error.  Additionally, even if you are not in the funnel cloud’s direct path, flying debris and falling trees can be very dangerous or even deadly. 

Cars are inherently dangerous places to be during a tornado. Restrict travel during a tornado WATCH and get to a safe place like a bank, hospital or fire department if a tornado WARNING is issued for your area.

If you are in your car, and you hear that there is a tornado near you, or you spot a funnel cloud, do not try to out run the tornado, seek shelter in a stable, brick building like a hospital, library, bank, fire department, rest stop, or government building.  Avoid seeking shelter in strip malls, big box stores, and fast food restaurants are not typically safe places to ride out a storm because of the type of construction.  Quickly get to an interior space away from windows and glass. Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge because they can collapse upon you.  If you have no other choice, get out of your vehicle and into a low lying ditch.

The most important thing we can learn about tornado preparedness is for everyone to have an advance plan and to take both tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS seriously.   Tornados, although they do not affect our area often, are very dangerous and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Barb Bisset is the director of the WakeMed Emergency Services Institute.


Farm it Forward: Help Bring Fresh Veggies to Needy Families

Enjoy local farm-fresh foods for Mother’s Day Brunch at Market Restaurant to benefit the Farm It Forward program, a community supported agriculture (CSA) program for Wake County citizens who are working to improve their nutrition due to health concerns and who could use extra help financially to make these changes. Through Farm It Forward, needy families can receive free shares of healthy, local produce for 10 weeks from local farmers.

Market will host brunch on May 8, Mother’s Day, from 10 am-3 pm, and feature the Farm It Forward Frittata and Strawberry Mint Julep, made with all local ingredients donated by local farms Ben’s Produce and New Grass Gardens. All proceeds from the frittata and the drink will be donated to support Farm It Forward shares for community members in need. Ben’s Produce also will sell flowers and bedding plants at Market on May 8 to raise funds for the program.

Farm it Forward is a new partnership among Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) and local Wake County farmers. It was conceived by farmers Ben Shields and Patricia Parker of Ben’s Produce. “Farm It Forward is about helping food insecure people in our area have access to locally grown healthy foods,” Shields said. “Community is very important to us; our mission is to strive for healthier people, community and agriculture by growing and sharing the best food we can. Working with AHA on this project has enabled us to connect with people who are food insecure but not necessarily receiving benefits for food.”

AHA is coordinating with Energize!, a WakeMed Children’s Diabetes & Endocrinology Program to identify Farm It Forward shares recipients. Energize! is dedicated to helping kids aged 6 to 18 reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and the program teaches young people and their families how to build lifelong healthy attitudes about food and fitness. Sixty percent of Energize participants are low-income.

“Connecting Farm It Forward with Energize! is a great way to increase access to healthy foods for people in Wake County who have a real need,” commented Laura Aiken, director of AHA and community outreach for WakeMed. “Plus this engages farmers and provides an additional way to support them. CSAs help farmers as community members invest financially in local farms and help defray the significant costs of planting for a season by purchasing shares,” Aiken added.

Farm It Forward launches this spring with support from AHA and financial donations from the community. Donations are welcome; checks payable to WakeMed with Advocates for Health in Action in the subject line may be mailed to WakeMed, 3000 New Bern Ave., Raleigh, NC 27610, ATTN: Laura Aiken.


WakeMed Celebrates Half A Century of Service

Although we will be celebrating throughout the year, yesterday (April 24) was the day WakeMed Raleigh Campus opened to patients 50 years ago in 1961. WRAL spoke with Dr. Atkinson and our longest tenured employee, Betty McGee, who has a mere 47 years of service under her belt.

You can also learn more about WakeMed’s history by visiting our web site.


Saturday’s Tornado as Seen from Raleigh Campus Helipad

This timelapsed video shot from the WakeMed Raleigh Campus Heart Center Helipad shows the April 16 tornado as it passes Yonkers Road, leaving destruction in its wake.

Here’s the same timeframe timelapsed video as seen from the ground helipad in front of the Raleigh Campus Emergency Department.


Talking to Children About Tornadoes

Families and professionals have different challenges in supporting children after disasters depending on many factors. First, of course, is the degree of impact.  Children who were injured or lost their homes obviously have very different needs from those who had no direct effects but who saw damage in their communities or on TV, or who spent time during the storm in a closet but did not get the worst of the storm.  This blog is meant to help you figure out how to help the children in your lives cope and recover.

Signs of Distress

Children’s needs vary by age and by their personality before the event.  Sensitive children may be upset just by hearing conversations at school or church, while other children can be surprisingly robust.  That said, it is useful to think about some common responses to disaster at different ages, especially when there is some direct effect on the child’s life. 

Young children often regress, acting less mature than previously.  For example, a child who was doing well going to bed and sleeping in her own room may have trouble with this, and get very upset at bedtime. 

School aged children may be more reluctant to leave their parents’ sides, may have bad dreams, and may become quite alarmed at any change in weather. 

Teens may become irritable or withdrawn.  For most children, these issues will resolve with time, but it may take patience for their caregivers.

What to Expect

Those who work with people who have experienced disasters often talk about stages that they may go through.  For example, it is common for the initial period to involve both shock and numbness, and a period of intense activity trying to deal with the immediate situation.   There can then be a short “honeymoon” when people are glad to be alive. 

But often this is followed by a period of disillusionment and frustration, as it becomes clear that things won’t return to normal right away.  This can be a painful time when people of all ages experience anxiety, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and sometimes recurrent memories, difficulty concentrating, and other symptoms even in very normal individuals.  

Eventually, most people rally and develop new routines and supports as they gradually return to more normal times.

Regroup Sooner Rather Than Later 

Help children rebound faster by returning to a predictable routine as soon as possible.  This routine includes the basics like sleeping, meals, play and school on a regular schedule. 

Second, allow and facilitate the child to talk about what they experienced.  It can be helpful for children to “tell their story” repeatedly.  For younger children, this may mean “playing it out.” Keep in mind that as an adult, you may need to help the child find a positive resolution to the story, making sure that it ends with the family back together in a safe home with new possessions, for example.

Sometimes children may have difficulty expressing their feelings through words. Activities such as drawing, painting, taking photographs, and pounding play dough can allow children to express their feelings and memories in another way.

Many children benefit tremendously from the opportunity to help with the recovery process.  From the young child who helps to pick up sticks in the yard, to the school age child who helps with a bake sale to raise money for the Red Cross, to the teen who volunteers to help an elderly neighbor clean up, we know that making a difference helps the volunteer as well as the recipient.

If friends or family members are injured, even very young children can make a card or send a balloon or stuffed animal to their loved one. This gives them a role to play during this time of crisis, when even the grownups around them may be worried or anxious about that person’s well-being.

Seeking Support

Finally, adults need to look after themselves in order to provide optimal support to their children.   When in doubt, helpers in the community, including friends, relatives, pediatricians and family doctors, and counselors at school and church often are waiting for opportunities to help.  Various agencies across the state, notably Hospice have resources for children who experience bereavement. Mental health resources are available if needed, and the primary health provider is often a good place to figure out when and if such support is appropriate for an individual child or family.

Melissa Johnson, PhD, is a WakeMed child clinical psycologist with the pediatric development team, and Susan Davis, WakeMed Children’s Hospital child life specialist, co-authored this blog.

Want to know more?  WRAL also interviewed  Melissa Johnson about how parents can help children cope with disasters.  This story aired on April 19.


WakeMed Treats 47 Storm-Related Injuries; Chainsaw Safety Urged During Clean Up

WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Wake County’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, treated a total of 47 patients with storm-related injuries this past weekend among its five emergency departments in Raleigh, Cary, North Raleigh and Apex.  Of these patients, 13 of patients remain in the hospital, two were transferred, and 32 have been treated and released.

WakeMed is strongly encouraging safety as clean-up efforts progress.  Chainsaw injuries are typically the most frequent and serious injuries seen after storms that cause a significant number of fallen trees.

“Neither gas nor electric chainsaws are safe. Chainsaws are inherently dangerous tools, and people who do not have experience simply should not operate a chainsaw,” warns Osi Udekwu, MD, director, WakeMed Physician Practices – Trauma & Surgery. “Additionally, even people who are experienced with a chainsaws need to use common sense and extreme caution when operating this very dangerous equipment. Chainsaw lacerations are very difficult to treat because they do not cause clean cuts.”

Follow these steps from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect yourself and others. Remember, safety features cannot substitute for knowledge.

  • Get the dealer to demonstrate how to use the saw. Read the manual, learn all you can before using the saw – it’s a potential killer.
  • Wear snug-fitting protective equipment. That includes goggles, face and head mask, gloves, boots, ear protection, and heavy-duty clothing. Wear the equipment properly.
  • Carefully check the area for loose bark, broken limbs, or other damage before trees are felled or removed.
  • Cut safely; keep both hands on the handles. Keep the handles dry, clean and free of oil or fuel. Keep your eye on the blade and what you are cutting. Cut with the lower edge of the saw blade whenever possible. Cutting with the tip of the saw is inviting injury. Let the chainsaw do the work. Don’t try to force the saw.
  • Do not overreach or cut above shoulder height. It is very difficult to control the saw in awkward positions.
  • Do not operate a chainsaw in a tree or from a ladder unless you have been specifically trained and are equipped to do so.
  • When cutting a spring pole or other tree under stress, permit no one but the feller to be closer than two tree lengths when the stress is released
  • Do not operate a chainsaw when tired, if you have been drinking alcohol, or if you have been taking prescription medication or non-prescription drugs.
  • Do not smoke while refueling your saw. Move the chainsaw at least 10 feet away from the fueling point before starting the engine. Use gasoline powered chainsaws only in well ventilated areas
  • Sharpen the saw regularly.
  • Look for anti-kick nose guards, quick-stop brakes, and wraparound hand guards on any saw you use. Kickback accounts for almost a third of chain saw accidents.
  • Don’t wear yourself out. Stay alert. Take frequent breaks.

U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is also an excellent resource for chainsaw safety information. 


WakeMed Submits CON to Add 101 Beds

WakeMed Raleigh Campus

WakeMed Health & Hospitals today submitted two Certificate of Need (CON) applications to add 101 beds in as identified in North Carolina’s 2011 State Medical Facilities Plan.  WakeMed is proposing to add 79 acute care beds to Raleigh Campus and 22 acute care beds to Cary Hospital.

Both Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital currently operate above the State’s CON performance occupancy threshold of 71.4 percent for hospitals the size of Cary Hospital and 75.2 percent for hospitals the size of Raleigh Campus. By 2015, growth coupled with an aging population, will cause Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital to have occupancy rates at or above 90 percent if no additional beds are opened at these facilities.

WakeMed Cary Hospital

“WakeMed is the leading provider of inpatient health care services in Wake County – the second fastest growing county in North Carolina.  And, WakeMed’s high inpatient occupancy drove the allocation of 101 beds in North Carolina’s State Medical Facilities Plan.  Additionally, the other hospitals in Wake County currently have un- or under-utilized acute care beds and have not shown a good track record in providing the inpatient capacity that the community needs,” notes Stan Taylor, WakeMed vice president corporate planning. 

Taylor continued, “Wake County will soon have five hospitals and four stand-alone emergency departments in geographically diverse, densely populated areas, ensuring access to healthcare across the county.  Wake County does not need more hospitals. It needs to add more inpatient capacity in the county’s two busiest existing hospitals, leveraging existing infrastructure and support services already in place to add beds quickly, cost-effectively and efficiently.”

Letters of support for WakeMed’s Certficiate of Need are still being accepted.  Click here to learn more.


WakeMed to Break Ground on Wake County’s Fifth Hospital; WakeMed North Hospital

WakeMed Health & Hospitals is pleased to announce it is moving  forward with plans to expand the existing WakeMed North Healthplex into Wake County’s fifth hospital – WakeMed North Hospital.  WakeMed expects to break ground in Fall 2011.

With an anticipated opening date of October 2013, WakeMed North Hospital will be a 61-bed acute care hospital with a focus on inpatient women’s specialty services, offering a full range of obstetric and gynecological services, including comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic care. The facility will continue to serve men and children through the existing emergency department, outpatient surgery, imaging, lab, and physician services already offered at the facility.

“Since opening in 2002, WakeMed North Healthplex’ consumer-driven volumes have consistently outpaced projections, demonstrating the great demand for health care services in this community,” explained Dr. Bill Atkinson, WakeMed president & CEO. “Currently WakeMed North Healthplex offers a full-service, 24/7 emergency department, ambulatory surgery center, imaging and laboratory services, and a host of additional clinical capabilities.  The campus also features an 85,000 square foot medical office building.”

“Transitioning to a hospital is the next logical step as the infrastructure is already in place and the community has a critical mass of 262,000 residents living within a seven mile radius of the facility.  While the hospital will initially open with a women’s focus, our plan is for it to continue to expand to meet the needs of women, men and children alike.”Atkinson continued.

The addition of a hospital to any community is always a significant boost to a community’s economy.  Construction of the North Hospital is predicted to create 500 construction jobs and will increase the current 150 employees to 442 full-time equivalent employees by the second year of hospital operation with an average salary of $48,760.

WakeMed received approval to add 41 licensed acute care beds to WakeMed North Hospital in 2009. These beds were in addition to the 20 acute care beds already approved for relocation from WakeMed Raleigh Campus, making the total bed count for WakeMed North Hospital 61. The inpatient beds will be constructed in an approximate 90,000 square foot addition to the existing North Healthplex.  The cost of the project is estimated to be nearly $62 million.