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Top Reasons “We Can’t Go Baby-Friendly” Part 3: How to Overcome “Have” Obstacles

Woman going through obstacle course overcoming "have" problems.

There are many reasons for why hospitals “can’t” go Baby-Friendly, but experience shows that when the obstacles are addressed, they actually can. I’ve addressed “Be” objections and “Do” obstacles. Now, I’ll take on “Have” problems — often, actually “do not have” problems.

The “have” theme goes something like this: “Our lack of [whatever] make it seem impossible for us to earn the Baby-Friendly designation.” Such “we-don’t-have-what-we-need” objections are almost always rooted in resources: human, material, financial and time resources.

“We have too many projects/programs already”

I admit, this makes everyone a little crazy. Me, too. Even when you think you can take it all on, along with the rest of your responsibilities, suddenly it’s a day when census is high, acuity is high, and staffing is low. You sigh…I get it. There is not enough time to do it all. Correct.

All people and organizations have the finite resource of 24 hours in a day. The key is to set priorities for daily, quarterly, and yearly outcomes. In this case, priorities need to be set at the system-level.

This might not be the time for your hospital to take on the Baby-Friendly program. (And there is a clear distinction between a project, which is more confined and characterized by a clear ending date, and a program, which is more expansive and ongoing in nature.)

And, for all of you fast-trackers out there, cool your jets. The timeframe for your hospital going from a complete standstill to designation is years, not months, okay?

“We don’t have enough money”

You’re right. You don’t have enough money. But neither does any other hospital in the country. So how come hundreds of them could do it, and your hospital can’t?

I can scarcely hold my tongue on this. Leaders at same hospital that spent $27 million dollars on an electronic medical record system said they couldn’t spend a few (or even several) thousand dollars on a program that actually improves clinical outcomes, rather than just recording them.

There will always be money for something. When we say “Yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else. Let’s think about how to accomplish the goal—maybe you can pursue grant funding. People knowledgeable about the process tell me that getting a $20K grant from a local foundation or other source isn’t all that difficult. But you never know unless you try, right?

“Our staff turns over too much”

Some hospitals say they don’t have enough qualified staff to do what needs to be done, and they don’t have enough time to train such people.

Let’s think about frequent staff turn-over. Why is it happening? What is the cultural environment in your hospital? Momentarily at least, forget whether you are your hospital is Baby-Friendly, and ask yourself if it is staff-friendly!

This question deserves careful attention. Staff nurses are one of most valuable assets — I might argue the most valuable asset — that any hospital has. Eyebrows would raise if any other assets were lost or wasted. Corrections would soon follow.

When staff leave, it may say something about your entire hospital culture. And Baby-Friendly is definitely about hospital culture.

Meanwhile, though, the key to dealing with the training for new staff is to have a clear plan. When hospital administrators ask me about a program for staff training, I’m astonished that very few ask about future training for newly-hired staff. Like everything else in the Baby-Friendly program, having a well thought out approach is critical.

The “have” objections are almost always rooted in some sort of trade-off

No one has an infinite quantity of time, money, competent staff or any other resource. There must be trade-offs.

If everyone in your facility believes the facts, and values the actions, then somehow, all of you will find the resources. You CAN overcome all of the objections, including “have” problems to why your hospital “can’t” achieve the Baby-Friendly designation.

Facts + Actions + Resources = Results

I’ll bet you can add to this list! What “have” problems have you noted in your hospital? What could help overcome them? Tell me in the comments section below!

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