Northwest Health Hospitals Recognized as Leaders in Breastfeeding
Johnson, Ark. (Feb. 14, 2017) — Clinical teams at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital and Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville are leading the way in providing breastfeeding support in Arkansas. The hospitals, both part of Northwest Health, became the first two in the state to achieve Baby-Friendly status this past fall.
“Baby-Friendly” is a designation given by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program supported by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The program distinguishes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers. There are more than 20,000 hospitals worldwide that have achieved this designation, but only about 365 in the United States.
“We are thrilled to receive this recognition at both campuses, which is the result of the hard work invested by so many of our staff and providers,” said Sharif Omar, CEO of Northwest Health. “It serves as a testament to Northwest Health’s commitment to be the leader in setting the standard of providing care for women and babies in Northwest Arkansas.”
Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson was on hand today at a press conference to recognize the two hospitals for their leadership in this effort. Also in attendance were representatives from Healthy Active Arkansas, a statewide health initiative that champions breastfeeding as one of its nine focus areas.
Dr. Marisha DiCarlo, director of health communications for the Arkansas Department of Health, spoke during the press conference on behalf of Healthy Active Arkansas. DiCarlo pointed out that there are a number of other hospitals that are working toward being designated as Baby-Friendly.
“The two Northwest Health hospitals have been working toward this achievement for some time,” DiCarlo said. “Their hard work is a shining example and an encouragement to these other hospitals that are working hard to become Baby-Friendly.”
At the end of the press conference, Omar welcomed representatives from several hospitals that are pursuing or considering pursuing Baby-Friendly status. The representatives were able to meet with Juli McWhorter, chief nursing officer at Willow Creek, as well as other staff from Willow Creek and Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville who helped the hospitals become Baby-Friendly.
“We are pleased to serve as mentors to all delivery hospitals in Arkansas who are attending to learn how we successfully achieved this wonderful designation,” Omar said. “We’re proud of this accomplishment, and we’re even prouder that it’s a priority we share with so many other hospitals and birthing centers.”
Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health and president of the Healthy Active Arkansas board of directors, said achieving milestones like this are an important part of Healthy Active Arkansas’ goals.
“Healthy Active Arkansas wants to build on the momentum of these two hospitals,” Wells said. “Study after study shows that breastfeeding is a key component in maintaining healthy weights for both babies and mothers. For so many hospitals across our state to be committed to providing these tools and resources says a lot about our commitment to improving the health of all Arkansans.”