St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart maintained its designation as a Baby-Friendly birth facility.
The medical center received the designation for meeting criteria set by Baby Friendly USA, which oversees the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
The initiative is a global program endorsed by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. This initiative recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer optimum care for breastfeeding mothers and their infants. There are nearly 600 Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the U.S.
The medical center’s redesignation extends until 2028. It reaffirms the hospital's commitment to delivering exceptional treatment to families during the critical phases of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care.
“Our family birthing center consistently provides exceptional care to hundreds of families annually,” said Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, in a press release. “The redesignation as a Baby-Friendly hospital underscores our commitment to ensuring a healthy beginning for newborns and providing mothers with comprehensive care and education.”
Attaining the Baby-Friendly designation entails a rigorous application and approval process. Collecting data, monitoring practices and providing enhancement activities all play a role in achieving the status.
The recognition celebrates birth facilities excelling in practices that empower breastfeeding mothers with the knowledge and skills essential to breastfeeding. Studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine underscore the connection between breastfeeding, reduced infant mortality and overall enhanced infant health.
“Our aim is to offer unwavering support, irrespective of their feeding choices,” said Brittany Pankiewicz, manager of the family birthing center and pediatrics at St. Mary Medical Center. “This accomplishment also reinforces our commitment to promoting best practices during childbirth, including advocating for skin-to-skin contact after delivery.”
St. Mary Medical Center is one of four not-for-profit hospitals in the Community Healthcare System. The system’s other hospitals are in Munster, East Chicago and Crown Point. The health care system has 7,688 employees. Their physicians deliver 2,870 babies each year.