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Mass. Breast Feeding Coalition Calls on UMass Med. CEO John O’Brien to Rescind Plan to Layoff RN Lactation Consultants

This week, the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition, an organization that advocates for appropriate breastfeeding practices for mothers and newborns in the Commonwealth, has issued an official call for UMass Memorial Medical Center CEO John O’Brien to rescind the facility’s plan to degrade its breastfeeding program by eliminating patient’s access to certified registered nurse lactation consultants.

In a callous move to cut costs at the expense of quality patient care, UMMMC management has announced plans to lay off all four of its registered nurse lactation consultants, who have an average of 17 years of experience working in the hospital’s once renowned maternity program. The new plan is to outsource the breastfeeding education to non-nurse consultants who work for the company that supplies breastfeeding pumps to the hospital. They plan to implement the change as of Dec. 1, 2011.

The hospital has made this decision when it operates one of the state’s busiest maternity programs (with more than 4,000 deliveries per year), which includes a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and an infertility program, serving some of the most vulnerable and fragile mothers and babies in the state. No other hospital in Massachusetts of like size employs non- RN lactation consultants and most community hospitals in the state rely on RNs for this vital service.