baby-friendly-eventBeginning in 2013, Fort HealthCare embarked on a journey to become a Baby-Friendly facility. The goal was reached, and the accreditation awarded in September, 2016. Fort Memorial Hospital is the 369th hospital in the United States to achieve this accreditation, and the 10th hospital in Wisconsin. To help celebrate this achievement, Fort HealthCare is hosting a family-friendly reception event for the community at the Fort Atkinson Club (211 South Water Street E., Fort Atkinson) on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-and-baby bonding. For more information, visit BabyFriendlyUSA.org.

The initiative outlines very specific guidelines that hospitals must follow to maintain this accreditation, many of which have always been routine for Fort HealthCare. Most importantly, it’s a place where new mothers experience a caring and encouraging environment where they and their new baby are the center of care, and breastfeeding is encouraged to take place whenever necessary. All Fort HealthCare staff that cares for mothers and infants is specially-trained in breastfeeding and lactation management.

Encouraging breastfeeding is central to the Baby Friendly initiative, as several advantages have been studied and are recognized to be essential in working toward the optimal health of mother other and baby. At Fort HealthCare, breastfeeding is discussed all throughout pregnancy, and more information is presented both in person and through childbirth preparation classes held at the hospital on an ongoing basis.

Providing a Baby-Friendly environment also benefits patients and their families because starting out in life as healthy as can be contributes to the long-term health of individuals, which is a philosophy directly supported by Fort HealthCare’s initiatives to improve the quality of life for residents in our communities, as measured by the County Health Rankings (countyhealthrankings.org). Breast milk has anitbodies in it that helps infants’ immune systems fight off sickness, and contributes to lowering children’s risk for developing asthma, allergies, colic, and obesity later on in life.

Fort HealthCare Great Expectations Birthing Center manager, Deborah Schumacher, states, “Working toward this level of accreditation was a tremendous undertaking, and it took the dedicated effort of several individuals at Fort HealthCare to help make it happen. We are incredibly proud of our staff and this accomplishment, and really looking forward to sharing the experience with our community.”

Beverly Haferman, Fort HealthCare lactation consultant, notes, “We know how important it is to foster a bond between mother and baby, and family and baby, and we have always dedicated our care for new mothers with that in mind. It’s really wonderful to be recognized by a national agency for those very efforts we bring to our patients on a daily basis.”

Fort HealthCare is committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities, with a vision to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, it is our goal to reach as many members of the community as possible with health and wellness messages, providing tools and resources to help individuals improve their health and quality of life, while collaborating with several partners to positively improve the population’s health overall on a long term basis. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com.