St. Joseph Medical Center receives prestigious baby-friendly designation

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Expectant mothers in south Puget Sound now have extra reassurance they are receiving the best possible care. CHI Franciscan’s St. Joseph Medical Center joins an elite group of hospitals that have received international recognition as a Designated Baby-Friendly birth facility, by Baby-Friendly USA. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The goal is to improve health outcomes for pregnant women, mothers, and newborns through breast-feeding. St. Joseph Medical Center is one of nine hospitals in Washington state to earn the designation. More closely, it’s the only hospital in the south Puget Sound region to be certified under the Baby-Friendly banner. To date, only 543 hospitals across the country have been accredited with the honor. “As a designated Baby-Friendly hospital, St. Joseph is recognized for providing new mothers with thorough, consistent education and support before leaving the hospital,” said Jakki Stodola, MBA, BSN, RNC, director of the Family Birth Center at St. Joseph Medical Center.  Hospitals are selected after a lengthy review process based on the  Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding  guidelines established by the WHO (www. babyfriendlyusa.org/for-facilities/practice-guidelines/10-steps-and-international-code). Babies who are breastfed have reduced risks of ear and respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, and obesity. Breastfeeding also offers long
term health benefits to mothers, reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and ovarian cancers later in life.  To comply with the rigorous BFHI review process, nurses and medical staff took part in up to 20 hours of required education and St. Joseph made changes to its breastfeeding policy. “The result is that a mother who gives birth here will receive significantly more education in order to make an informed decision about feeding her baby, whether she chooses to breastfeed or use formula,” Stodola said. “When a mother has questions about feeding her baby, our doctors, nurses, midwives, and staff will all give consistent, evidence-based answers.” All CHI Franciscan Birth Centers offer outpatient lactation programs, where any mother can receive expert, evidence-based breastfeeding support and education close to home, from West Seattle to Puyallup to the Peninsula.  “This recognition reflects CHI Franciscan’s commitment to providing excellent care for growing families,” said Debbie Raniero, MBA, RNC, regional director of Women’s & Children’s Services for CHI Franciscan. “We couldn’t have achieved this without the support of the entire hospital, from our senior leadership right down to our housekeepers. We are all extremely excited, proud, and happy for our community. Because we are part of a larger system, we have changed practices in all of our hospitals, not just St. Joseph Medical Center.”

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