Sep 5, 2016

Megan Timm, CLC, CTTS, Prevention Program Supervisor, and Nicole Santonastaso, NDTR, CLC, Healthy Start Educator and WIC Program Breastfeeding Coordinator, are doing great work at CHAMPS Hospital Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) in Nome, Alaska! NSHC is a tribally owned health care organization that serves 15 villages of Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik and Yup’ik people, as well as non-Native people in Alaska’s Bering Strait region. They deliver around 70 babies per year, and approximately 90% of their maternity patients are American Indian/Alaska Native. High-risk births are referred to Alaska Native Medical Center, and babies in villages are seen by pediatricians or family practice doctors from NSHC.
Megan was nominated for her wonderful leadership as Baby-Friendly Team Lead during the maternity leave of Wellness Director Kelly Zweifel Keyes, RD, LD, CDE.
Megan shares: “Initially, I had a moment of ‘this is too big for me to take on,’ but after meeting with [AI/AN CHAMPS Project Manager] Kirsten Krane, she really assisted in building up my confidence to make some movement for NSHC. While meeting with departments, pulling data and seeing what processes were already implemented – I have been pleasantly surprised that NSHC is already doing some amazing work in this area and we are ready to take this on!”
In addition to working on Baby-Friendly, NSHC recently did some amazing community breastfeeding events during World Breastfeeding Week. Nicole coordinated these events, which took place every day of the week and included: a documentary at a local movie theater; “Meet Your CLC” events in Nome and 2 villages; a breastfeeding educational talk titled “{Breast}Milk and Cookies”; and The Big Latch On.
Nicole shares: “The entire town has really come together for all our events!” Women shared stories on social media, NSHC made and distributed buttons, and Nicole created a blog with “breastfeeding education, which sparked many conversations with health care professionals, conversations that will be crucial discussions during our transition to become Baby-Friendly.”
Megan and Nicole’s passion for breastfeeding carries over into their personal lives as well. While Megan was pregnant with her first child, she remembers wishing that NSHC was Baby-Friendly. Soon after returning from her maternity leave, Kelly made her aware that this was becoming a reality. Her son is now 11 months old, and Megan has experienced her own breastfeeding journey with its own “obstacles and milestones.”
Nicole recently participated in the 2016 Miss Alaska Pageant in which “Breastmilk: Our First Traditional Food” was her personal platform. She helped raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and combatted shame related to public breastfeeding. She won the national award for community service with her platform work! Nicole shares: “Though I didn’t win the crown, I felt like the biggest winner for receiving an award for the most important piece of my pageant experience.”
Congratulations, Megan and Nicole! Keep up the good work!