Saint Francis Foundation

Saint Francis Receives Its Largest Grant In History From W. K. Kellogg Foundation

$2,082,631 to expand the Breastfeeding Peer Counseling program in Hartford and beyond


(Hartford, Conn –March, 2018) - Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, a member of Trinity Health Of New England, has received a $2,082,631 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to continue the Hispanic Health Council’s “Breastfeeding: Heritage and Pride” (BHP) peer counseling program in the hospital’s Center for Women’s Health. The grant will be used to replicate and introduce the BHP program in three other Trinity Health Of New England hospitals (Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, Conn; Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Mass; and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn). It will also be used to create a path for the replication of BHP at 36 other Trinity Health hospitals and to assist in Trinity Health’s goal of having 100% of its maternity hospitals reach Baby Friendly status over the next three years.

This new initiative, “Scaling Up the Baby Friendly Hospital Systems/Breastfeeding:  Heritage and Pride” will be spearheaded by Walter Trymbulak, M.D., Ph.D, vice chairman, Saint Francis’ Women and Infants Service Line and project director of the Kellogg initiatives.  He is thrilled with the continued support of WKKF because “Breast milk is the very best first food an infant can get.  Breastfeeding has significant health benefits for both our babies and their mothers.  More importantly, these health benefits last for a lifetime.” “Baby Friendly” is a designation given to hospitals by UNICEF’s Baby Friendly U.S.A. Hospital maternity units need to establish strict standards of practice that increase the rate of breastfeeding initiation and maximize the emotional bond between mothers and infants in the first two days following delivery.

BHP is an evidenced-based program that seeks to increase breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity rates among low-income mothers Created by the Hispanic Health Council nearly 20 years ago, it is the only program in the country that recruits women from the community who have successfully breastfed and trains them to counsel and educate their peers and provide hands-on support in clinical and community settings.

José Ortiz, executive director, Hispanic Health Council states, “I am delighted that our Breastfeeding Heritage and Pride Program will have increased impact, as it is proven to increase breastfeeding rates among populations that experience the greatest barriers to successful breastfeeding.”

“The BHP program began at Saint Francis in 2015 with the support of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. We are incredibly grateful to the WKKF for recognizing the success of this program and enabling us to continue to care for the most vulnerable in our community,” stated John F. Rodis, M.D., M.B.A, president, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

“The Saint Francis Foundation is honored to be part of this historic grant that will impact the children and families of our local community and eventually throughout the nation.  These partnerships are the basis of our mission to honor the dignity of every person,” stated Lynn Rossini, vice president and chief development officer, Saint Francis Foundation.