Posted by: Jennifer | September 19, 2008

Dr. Newman’s Clinic

I write today with some sad news.  Dr. Jack Newman’s Breastfeeding Clinic is losing its funding.  I belong to a Yahoo Group called Breastfeeding Canada News that sends out news regarding breastfeeding issues in Canada and yesterday I received an email regarding the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute.

I am going to post the email in its entirety so that people can see the situation for themselves.  Something needs to be done to keep this amazing resource open.

September 17, 2008
Hi All,
I would like to update everyone on the situation as it stands now for the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute.  I know that many have  been to our website and have read our cry for help; I also know that many nice and supportive stories are going around about the details of our troubles, and many of these stories are not correct, so, best to set the record straight to clear up any misunderstandings.
First, the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute (NBCI) has had  wonderful support from a private family foundation for the past 2½ years.  That support was always contingent on NBCI being able to secure other sources of funding to complement that of the Foundation.  Since 2005 when we first starting receiving support from this very generous private family foundation (after we were removed from the last hospital clinic we had been in) this foundation’s funding of NBCI has gone from covering 100% of our clinic practice to 48%.  Not that they have decreased their  contribution amount—their contribution has actually increased–it’s  just that our budget has doubled.  We see more patients and have more staff and see patients for longer than we use to.   We have been able to augment the foundation’s contribution by starting the NBCI Institute, and by selling our books, DVDs,  L-Eat, GamePlan, and Decision Tree.  Furthermore, and very reluctantly, Jack and I agreed to charge a small administrative fee for the first 3 visits of any patient who could afford it.  This too, helps to cover some of the day-to-day operating costs.  
So, we have done well to make sure the foundation’s contribution did not contribute more than 49% of our operating budget—however; we have not been able to secure other sources of funding.   The Foundation has told us they cannot give us any more funding.  We  have a meeting with them next week and will present our business plan and action plan for the future in the hopes of changing their minds; however, we were so hoping we would have been able to go to them and say we had some other funders—no such luck.  So I fear that meeting may not go as well as we would like.
Second, to complicate matters, the Canadian College of  Naturopathic Medicine, CCNM, where we rent space and have our clinic, is bursting at the seams with so many new students of their own and they have needed to reclaim some of the rooms we have  been using.  And our growing clinic needs all the space we currently use plus more.  So, with the CCNM growing and us growing we really need to find our own space.  We have a meeting with them this week—I am not sure that will go the way we like and we may need to look for our own space sooner than we expected.  Fingers crossed we can stay.  We have had a number of other unexpected costs and challenges over the last 6 months and these have all added dollar signs associated to our rent and our budgetary requirements. 
So, though our funding stops on September 30th (meaning the amount we have been given for this year only covers us up until September 30) that does not mean we will close then.  What it means is that with very careful planning over the last couple of months (as we have only just received this news otherwise there would have been planning for much longer!) we will be able to cover our costs for a few more months only.  After that, Jack and I will have to find another way of funding our clinic and that may mean doing so personally.  Obviously, not a very viable or long-term option. 
The Institute on the other hand, can keep going more easily, we believe, as long as the CCNM continue to provide us with the classroom space for the same price.  As our Institute continues to grow we hope that it will be able to support our clinic.  Right now, so few people know that we even have a teaching facility.  We so often get requests asking for names  of places where HCPs can get both didactic and hands-on training in lactation management and train to be IBCLCs.  Funny to hear the surprise in their voices when they learn that we do both kinds of lactation training and even have a diploma programme for just that and IBCLC training is our love and specialty!
For anyone who is not really aware of our clinic composition, let me give a brief description.  Currently, we have 2 paediatricians (one is an IBCLC and Co-director with me (Jack Newman) and the other has just sat for her IBCLC exam (Muroog Al-Dabbagh).  We have Me, Edith Kernerman (an IBCLC and Co-Director with Jack), and then we have 3 administrative staff (Eileen, who has her MSc and is dedicated only to the Institute; Kerrian, who runs the office, and Trina, who helps keep me sane!) and 6 Breastfeeding Support Counsellors, 3 of whom are IBCLCs (Jean, our clinic manager, Marla, and Suzanne),  two of whom have just sat for the exam (Shelly and Timea), and the last of whom will write in July, Lynda).  Of those staff, 3 are RNs, 1 is an LLL leader, and 2 are Doulas. 
We have 4 clinic rooms, a staff resource room and lounge (which really ends up being another clinic room during clinic hours) and a tiny office for our admin staff.  We see patients 4 days/week at the Toronto clinic, and 1 day a week in our Alliston Clinic.  On average we see 16-20 patients/day, each staying in the clinic for at least an hour and often much longer.  Each patient spends at least an hour with a counsellor and has a visit with the paediatrician who also does a physical of the baby.  Patients are given handouts at the end of their visits, are encouraged to go to our website to watch video clips, and are given a follow-up appointment as needed and as many as are needed.  We take mothers and babies from anywhere in the world no matter where they gave birth, no matter what baby’s age, and no matter what the problem is—as long as it is related to breastfeeding.  We can take care of tongue ties, abscesses, not-yet latchers, FTT, and the myriad of breastfeeding-related problems that exist. 
Jack and I answer tons of emails every single day and never charge for that service.  We provide free prescription repeats for our patients without asking them to come into the clinic, and we provide ongoing support for them as long as they need us. Though we really prefer patients and HCPs email us, our staff is available to answer breastfeeding questions by phone during clinic hours.  We provide and maintain a very busy and active website full of free information including handouts and video clips available to all.  Yes, we are a very busy clinic.  And yes, these services are all in jeopardy.
Many helpful and concerned citizens have made wonderful suggestions to us about how if we could just research some information about such and such foundation or some programme and do such and such maybe we will be able to find someone or some programme that may be able to offer us some advice or funding.  Frankly, we don’t have time.  We are so busy and working so many hours a day every day that there are no extra hours to do such research.   We have been advised to hire a fundraiser—the salary range quotes we are getting are in the $75,000/yr and no guarantees on any money coming in for the first few years.  Yes, we are told we need a fundraising feasibility study—the quotes we are getting are in the $7-10,000 range for a 5-month study—that doesn’t even attempt to bring money in.  And yes, we tried to hire a marketing/lobbyist firm—1 quoted us $3000-4000/month with us doing all the work (no time!!) and the other was $5000-6000/month with them doing the work (no money!!). 
So, what does this mean for the state of our clinic, our website, and all our resources?  It means we need to find some funding very quickly or we will have to cut back drastically, on the number of days, on staff, on accessibility to our resources/services.  Because of this, we have started a campaign both in our clinic and on our website and soon by mail to secure funding for three things: a clinic of our own; funds to maintain our staff and maybe hire some more so we can operate more days/week; and funds to provide online webinars and online courses.    
We are hoping that some breastfeeding-friendly foundations or organizations or companies or individuals will step up and offer to help.  This may help to relieve the burden on our current funders and they may be able to stay on.   We have been getting some smaller donations from patients and others through the website.  All donations are given a charitable tax receipt and only 3% is taken for administrative costs (by the Canada Helps online donation service).  Any larger donations made by cheque directly to the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation are given in their entirety to our clinic (as long as they are earmarked or directed to our clinic).  We are hoping the Canadian Government and the Ontario Government will see the value of our services especially our Institute and see the need and the benefit to supporting the Institute in some way.  This is a long shot, but a reasonable expectation for the future. 
How much do we need?  We need $45,000 by December of this year.  We need at least $275,000 by next autumn to run bare bones, $550,000 to run properly.  We need a lot more than that if we are going to get our own free-standing clinic space.
We also are looking for volunteers to help with administrative  functions—like filling out grant applications, doing online research to find funding sources, translation services for our resources, computer programming to help with our patient database, etc, etc.  If you know of anyone who can help in anyway, please have them email us at .
I hope that clarifies our situation and puts some minds at ease and gets others  working.   No, we are not going to close tomorrow, or on September 30th nor the weeks or months after.  But we cannot stay going like this for much longer—that is for certain.  We need help and we need it fast. 
Thank you for your support,
Edith and Jack

EDITH KERNERMAN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Newman Breastfeeding Clinic & Institute
1255 Sheppard Avenue East
Toronto, ON  M2K 1E2
416-498-0002  phone
416-498-0012  fax


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