NYU Langone Health announced that it has been named a Working Mother “100 Best Company” for its forward-thinking workplace programs including women's advancement, parental leave, child care assistance, and work flexibility. As part of the recognition, NYU Winthrop Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse educator Leticia Rios, RN, MSN, has been named NYU Langone Health’s 2020 Working Mother of the Year.
The honoree, a mother to a five-year-old daughter, works in NYU Winthrop Hospital’s NICU, where she serves as a nurse educator for more than 120 nurses on current evidence-based practices to improve patient outcomes. She is also a volunteer for Birth Justice Warriors, a Long Island organization aimed at decreasing the disparity of maternal–infant health outcomes among minorities.
“As the daughter of immigrant parents, academics were not supported when I was a young child,” says Rios. “I recognized the need to take control of my future and am now very proud to have achieved considerable milestones in my nursing career while not losing sight of my motherhood and parenting responsibilities.”
Rios is currently pursuing a PhD at Adelphi University and utilizing NYU Langone’s tuition reimbursement program. She received a master’s degree in nursing education from Long Island University, where she previously obtained her nursing degree.
Rios juggled those milestones with being a mother to her daughter, Jordyn, which brought challenges to her as a woman of color. She experienced complications after her daughter’s delivery, along with difficulty receiving support to exclusively breastfeed. Recognizing that breastfeeding has the power to reduce the incidence of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, she became an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and established a business to increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding in women of color. She facilitates the Brownsville Baby Café, now conducted via Zoom due to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, to provide breastfeeding support—and address food insecurity and access—to women in underserved communities and shelters.
In addition, she educates staff in physician offices on how to become breastfeeding-friendly and has created networks to connect mothers with doulas, home-visiting programs, and midwives to improve maternal and infant outcomes.
Rios balances the professional development of NICU nurses and her passion for supporting underserved women with raising her daughter, striving to influence Jordyn’s trajectory and success for the future by exposing her to early childhood education.
“The recognition from Working Mother speaks to the many benefits, policies and the inclusive workplace culture at NYU Langone Health that supports our employees in their roles as parents, caregivers, and family members, as well as fostering their professional growth,” says Nancy Sanchez, the health system’s executive vice president and vice dean for Human Resources and Organization Development and Learning.
NYU Langone Health continues to expand its offering of family-friendly benefits to help working mothers, parents, caregivers and families. NYU Langone also offers eligible employees access to a subsidized emergency backup childcare, an elder care benefit, and support programs for families with special needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new benefit provided essential frontline employees a subsidy to offset the cost of in-home caregivers.
Among recent educational initiatives that Rios initiated for NYU Winthrop Hospital NICU nurses was therapeutic body cooling, which benefits premature infants born with severe hypoxia or perinatal issues that reduce blood flow to the brain. It involves cooling the infant for 72 hours to reduce potential damage to brain tissue and improve neurological outcomes.