As the largest city in Lycoming County in north central Pennsylvania, Williamsport is rich with community art and attractions, Victorian architecture, and a vibrant downtown. It is the only city located in the Pennsylvania Wilds
, encompassing Williamsport and the surrounding geographic area with scenic mountains and forests that place them away from the state’s major metropolitan areas. Williamsport is best known as the birthplace of Little League Baseball® and welcomes the world every summer for the Little League Baseball® World Series. In 2014, the Williamsport population was 116,108 (50% female), with a majority of citizens between the ages of 18-44 years. Caucasians represent 92.5% of the population, and 4.7% are African American. In 2014, the poverty level was approximately 16%. The area offers higher education, with Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology attracting a variety of students and faculty every year. Also nearby is The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC®), an affiliate of Susquehanna Health. Susquehanna Health is one of the top employers in the county and consists of medical facilities across multiple areas. Prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and mental health are recognized as mortality challenges for the county, but optimal breastfeeding practices can help improve the health of future generations in Northern Pennsylvania.
Susquehanna Health Williamsport Regional Medical Center is located within the city of Williamsport and serves the urban population as well as the surrounding rural community. The hospital delivers approximately 1200-1500 births annually. Since joining the EMPower initiative while in the D3 Dissemination phase of Baby-Friendly USA’s 4-D Pathway, the facility has gained closer collaboration between all departments providing maternal and infant care. Providing evidence-based care for mothers and babies truly engages all providers, staff members, and departments. EMPower has also supported the Williamsport Regional Medical Center team to organize policies and documents and to develop effective, consistent performance improvement methods and efficient data collection.
In addition, the EMPower initiative facilitates engagement between hospitals, and Williamsport Regional Medical Center has been able to network with other healthcare systems, sharing information and resources to help achieve the overall national goal of impacting public health. The facility has developed educational materials for the prenatal setting and for the postpartum period that they have disseminated to other hospitals in the EMPower initiative. The facility also offers services beyond discharge, including private consultations and casual mother-to-mother support groups. Gigi Lawless, the EMPower Breastfeeding Coach for this facility, adds, “Williamsport Regional Medical Center has truly engaged in the collaborative spirit by sharing resources with other facilities. They are currently in D4 and have quite a bit of insight to offer to the facilities that are not as far along in their implementation of the Ten Steps.”
Throughout their Baby-Friendly journey, the Williamsport Regional Medical Center team has faced various challenges, but they have also celebrated many triumphs. It takes a steadfast commitment to develop and implement the changes needed to achieve an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. Being part of a nationwide initiative displays the value of their commitment to completing this journey. Their EMPower Quality Improvement Coach, Sue Butts-Dion, reflects on her impression of this facility: “The Williamsport Regional Medical Center team exemplifies what it requires to take on this type of organizational improvement effort and be successful. They have the motivation that an initiative of this scope requires, and they take advantage of every opportunity afforded them through EMPower to learn new things and to apply them in their organization.”