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|For Immediate Release
Betsy Haley 410-601-5529
Jill Bloom 410-601-5025
LifeBridge Health Receives Pregnancy Friendly Workplace Designation
LifeBridge Health is the first Maryland business to receive a Pregnancy-Friendly Workplace designation from the March of Dimes. On June 18, Sharon Rossi, R.N., M.S.N., the director of Patient Care in Women and Children's Services at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, member of LifeBridge Health, received the award on behalf of the health system.
The March of Dimes Maryland Chapter held a Prematurity Summit in late 2004 to address the rate of premature births in the state, which is almost 13 percent. According to the March of Dimes, preterm birth, which means birth before 37 weeks of gestation, is the leading cause of infant death in the United States.
A committee born out of the summit included Sinai Hospital Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology David B. Schwartz, M.D. Schwartz suggested a "pregnancy-friendly workplace” designation as a way to encourage businesses to help their employees have healthy, full-term babies.
"In a pregnancy-friendly workplace, employees are much more productive and happy, and are likely to be healthier for a longer period of time,” Schwartz says.
To be awarded the pregnancy-friendly designation, an employer has to meet at least three of the following criteria:
- Supply preparedness information to prospective parents, through classes, brochures, a library, e-mail or a directed Web site. At LifeBridge Health, employees can access information from the employee intranet.
- Provide information about healthy pregnancy and childbirth that encourages early and continuing prenatal care, and information about preterm birth prevention.
- Ensure time off for prenatal appointments.
- Provide extra physical accommodations for pregnant employees, such as a place where they can rest with their feet up.
- Engage other employees in creating a positive working environment for pregnant colleagues.
- Provide a private area where lactating women can pump and store breast milk.
- Provide health insurance coverage that includes comprehensive prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care, or facilitate through a liaison the application for insurance through state or private agencies.
LifeBridge Health meets several of the criteria and passed a recent survey "with flying colors,” says Rossi.
In addition to readily available information, comprehensive health insurance is offered to full- and part-time employees at LifeBridge Health. LifeBridge Health also has designated places for lactating women to pump breast milk. At Sinai Hospital, it's A Mother's Place; and Northwest Hospital plans a similar area.
Rossi says she hopes other businesses will follow LifeBridge Health's lead. "What we hope is that if we can get businesses across the state to embrace this concept, we can impact the incidence of prematurity.”
LifeBridge Health is a regional health organization that includes Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Northwest Hospital Center, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Jewish Convalescent & Nursing Home, and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org.