Originally, I thought I would write about each task force meeting. I quickly realized writing about meetings is boring. But our last task force meeting? Well, you all need to read about that one!
Ryan Comfort, a 29-year-old graduate of Wharton School of Business, came to visit us. I met Ryan in September at a conference in Indianapolis and thought, “We’ve got to get aligned with this guy! His ideas are going to be BIG!” He talked about technology as a means of disseminating timely, relevant information in a way that would be familiar and attainable to the childbearing demographic. His ideas were beyond one-size-fits-most text messages or websites; they represented the innovative spirit we are known for at Memorial. Phone calls, emails and even a webinar followed our first meeting, leading up to an unforgettable November task force meeting.
The first order of business was to explain why a 29-year-old guy would leave his successful job in finance for breastfeeding. While at Wharton, Ryan says he looked around and saw wealthy people learning how to help make other wealthy people wealthier while becoming very wealthy themselves. He wanted no part of that, but played the game for a few years after graduation, living on 20% of his income in hopes of someday self-funding a tech start-up that would make a lasting impact.
Still, the question loomed. Why breastfeeding? Ryan observed the difficulty his sister had with breastfeeding, but she was fortunate to have their mother, a labor and delivery nurse, help her. Additionally, his sister turned to Google where she received often conflicting and confusing messages. Drawing from his training and expertise in business and technology, Ryan saw opportunities to coordinate breastfeeding messages in order to offer consistent information.
I’m sure you’ll agree the next logical step would be to drive a big pink bus all across the country to assess the needs of breastfeeding women. I have to admit, that may not have entered my mind, but with his dad as the driver, that’s exactly what Ryan did the summer of 2011. He met members of breastfeeding coalitions and La Leche League, milk bank leaders, regular moms and their families, even the Surgeon General. You can read the blog about the cross-country trip by clicking here. Significantly, he met Tina Cardarelli, Indiana’s State Breastfeeding Coordinator. Tina showed him the infrastructure Indiana has to support breastfeeding, including 44 coalitions, representation of more than 95% of delivering hospitals at annual summits, four Baby-Friendly hospitals with several more on their way, Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank and a WIC program that is a leader in breastfeeding support and education.
So what does Ryan do? He moved to Indiana.
At our task force meeting in November, Ryan shared all this and more. He led us through an exercise to identify where the potential is to have betting continuity of care. We identified our strengths and our weaknesses, leaving the whiteboard looking like my head felt—swimming!
The peace, however, is that we are not in this alone. There is an opportunity to pool our resources, knowledge and talents with others in Indiana, as well as national leaders, and come up with something completely unprecedented. Announcements to follow … Stay tuned!
This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the 22-member task force who helped complete the Development Phase of Baby-Friendly at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. Our task force will meet for the last time on Dec. 5 as we usher in a different organizational structure for the Dissemination Phase. I’m grateful to the nurses, leaders, doctors and community members who lent an ear and voice to the task force over the last year. Each person, their presence each month and their unique contributions are what kept us on schedule and helped us create new systems, policies and educational materials. Thank you! God bless you this Thanksgiving with an abundance of love for family and friends, as well as the community we serve together.