Group of moms outraged over Winnie Palmer Hospital program cuts



ORLANDO, Fla. - Winnie Palmer Hospital, central Florida's busiest hospital for labor and delivery, is cutting back on some of the help it gives new mothers.

Some former patients are so outraged they told WFTV reporter Lori Brown they're launching a campaign to stop the cuts.

Victoria Shade said the program helped save her newborn's life.

Shade said that during a class on breast feeding, the lactation consultant discovered a life threatening condition that affected her baby's digestion.

She said she could not believe it when she found out the lactation consultant had been laid off.

"This woman helped save my son's life," said Shade.

An Orlando Health spokesperson said in an email that it is part of a restructuring to its maternal education department to become more cost efficient.

"If these services hadn't been there, we would not have discovered these problems in the time that we did," said Shade.

The hospital will not confirm the number of layoffs, but staff members said the program is being reduced from 14 full-time employees to two full-time and four part time employees.

Lauren Burns said the maternal education classes are the reason she was able to breastfeed her daughter.

"I was able to have a bonding experience with her," said Burns.

Judi Hayes said staff members were critical in helping her son with Down syndrome.

"I'm sad for the next generation of mothers," said Hayes.

The cuts come just days after Orlando Health unveiled plans for the Winnie Palmer Center for Women's Health.

A spokesperson said in a statement, "Despite some staffing changes, Winnie Palmer hospital's maternal education department will not be closing. We remain committed to providing our new mothers and families the support they need to raise a happy and healthy baby."

Shade said she hopes Orlando Health will reconsider its cuts.

"This program helps moms, which helps babies, which helps families. I'm sorry if you didn't know how much it means," said Shade.

A Facebook page dedicated to stopping the cuts already has 145 members and dozens of moms are writing to the president of the hospital.