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Hospital Hypocrisy on Sponsorship Must End

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 18, 2012

This puts hospitals in a tricky situation, because while the medical community agrees about the importance of breast feeding, it simply isn’t feasible for all new moms and their babies. For those patients who for whatever reason doctors determine won’t be successful at breast feeding, a few free formula samples to get them started doesn’t hurt.

But the free samples should not be handed out to all new moms. Patient health comes first and for most babies that means breastfeeding.

If your organization is considering updating your formula sample policy, be as transparent as possible. Craft a press release, post an article on your website, and educate staff so that they are up to date if any patient asks. Even if you don’t want to change your policy, explain why you’re sticking with it. Patients will appreciate the honesty.

From Formula to Burgers
Hospitals have also taken heat for housing fast food chains like McDonald's in their cafeterias. Earlier this month NPR reported on the intensifying pressure for hospitals to only serve sensible, healthy food on campus.

Last year the AHA issued a call to action urging hospitals to eliminate unhealthy food in cafeterias as one way to create a culture of wellness, but for some organizations it’s not so simple. Ten years ago the Cleveland Clinic was unable to terminate its contract early with McDonalds, being forced to wait it out.

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10 comments on "Hospital Hypocrisy on Sponsorship Must End"


Dana (5/1/2012 at 5:29 PM)
When formula is necessary, women should be able to decide which brands to use by referring to a pediatrician, rather than being limited to the contracts hospitals have with a formula companies. Even though these samples are "free," they end up costing more because mothers are likely to stick with the particular brand they receive in hospitals. These can cost up to $700 per year more than the cheaper alternative brands. Public health should come before corporate profits. The industry makes its profits by ensuring that less women breastfeed their babies. In some hospitals, formula companies provide two different discharge bags: one for moms who intend to formula feed and one for those who intend to breastfeed. And inside the breastfeeding bag, they place infant formula and coupons for more infant formula. This is straightforward attempt to convert these mothers to formula feeders and increase profits. The problem isn't in the use of infant formula when it's necessary, but in the way hospitals are serving as marketing venues for these companies. http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3578

16788044 (4/26/2012 at 2:24 PM)
Really, you want to pick on breast feeding...that's the best you can do. There are countless mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed. If you don't have an ooption for them what message does that send??? And don't say that you addressed this in your article, your one sentence attempt at appeasing these individuals is insulting. If you are going to bash hospitals for being hypocritical at least choose something meaningful. The fast food example is good, you should have started out with that and given it most of the attention. Now I just think that whoever wrote the article is one of those crazy breast feeding mongors who did this until their kids were 5.

M. Bennet Broner (4/19/2012 at 8:15 PM)
I spent a great deal of time at Hollywood (Florida) Memorial Hospital as my sister was dying there. I always found it funny that the McDonald's in the lobby had its own 'crash cart'. Did this say something about the food? However, if we are to rail against unhealthy food in hospitals, we should also look at their cafeterias. Sometimes serving cultural favorites is not the best idea!