St. Mary Medical Center Begins Implementation of Welcome Baby Program

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St. Mary Medical Center

St. Mary Medical Center has received a $425,000 grant to implement First 5 LA’s successful Welcome Baby Program in Long Beach.

Welcome Baby offers personalized prenatal, post-partum and hospital visits with a professionally trained “Parent Coach” from pregnancy through the first 9 months for families living within First 5 LA’s Best Start Communities. Available at no cost to all maternity patients, the Welcome Baby continuum of care includes breastfeeding support, referrals to community resources and an in home visit from a registered nurse.

Approximately 14,800 families countywide will benefit from $2.3 million in Welcome Baby grants awarded recently by First 5 LA. Five other hospitals in Los Angeles County receiving grants include Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary San Pedro, St. Francis Medical Center, and White Memorial Medical Center.

“Welcome Baby will benefit every mother who delivers, or plans to deliver, her baby at our hospital,” said Tom Salerno, St. Mary Medical Center President & CEO. “We are delighted to be among the hospitals in L.A. County selected by First 5 LA to offer this program.”

Joyce Elliott, RN, Director of Women’s Services said, “Welcome Baby will be a great addition to our busy Maternal Health Program. Last year, we delivered more than 3,000 babies. Our new moms will definitely benefit from this wonderful program that will provide expanded support for both mother and baby after delivery.” Elliott added, “This program and our newly remodeled Labor & Delivery rooms which offer private rooms, armoires and bathrooms, are going to be very much in demand for new mothers. Our redesigned and expanded triage area also allows us to serve mothers with even greater efficiency and personalized care.”

Welcome Baby addresses the following First 5 LA goal areas: that children are safe from abuse and neglect, that children maintain a healthy weight and that children are ready for kindergarten. Using Parent Coaches, Welcome Baby addresses prenatal testing, home planning/safety, labor signs, breastfeeding, depression screening, family nutrition, infant assessments and growth and development milestones.

“We’re excited to expand this program to other communities,” said Diana Careaga, program officer with First 5 LA.

Welcome Baby began in 2009 as a pilot program in the Best Start Metro LA Community. Since that time, it has enrolled over 3,500 moms. The program was created as a result of the passage of Proposition 10, which levied a 50-cent tax on tobacco products to fund a comprehensive system of information and services to advance early childhood development and school readiness within each county in California.

“The pilot has done an amazing job of providing needed services to moms,” Careaga said. “Moms feel more ready. They understand their child a little better. They have more patience, more information and more resources.”

About St. Mary Medical Center
Founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in 1923, St. Mary Medical Center, a member of Dignity Health, offers a full continuum of primary and secondary acute care services to the Greater Long Beach community. With more than 600 physicians, 1,415 employees and 389 private rooms, St. Mary is committed to providing a unique balance of leading edge technology, while ensuring dignity and compassionate care of body, mind and spirit to the community it serves. For more information, please visit us at

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