South Carolina Health Department nurses who specialize in breastfeeding techniques will soon be dispatched to hospitals across the state to assist new moms just hours after their infants are born.

The program, administered by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, was conceived during the department’s restructuring, said DHEC Director Catherine Templeton. Currently, the specialized nurses are only available on site at local health clinics.

Templeton said many new mothers can’t practically coordinate a trip to a health department clinic for breastfeeding advice after their babies are born.

“We would like to take our services to the people,” she said. “These are accessibility, practical issues that I don’t have to be a medical doctor to see.”

The program will focus DHEC resources on hospitals with the highest birth rates because some hospitals already employ nurses who specialize in breastfeeding.

The department is also working on a program that will offer immunizations to children at public elementary schools, Templeton said.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.