Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center Earns Baby-Friendly Hospital Recognition

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Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center has been designated a Baby-Friendly hospital, the only such hospital in greater Long Beach, and one of only 19 hospitals in Los Angeles County to earn this recognition by Baby-Friendly® USA, Inc.

Trish MacEnroe, Executive Director of Baby-Friendly® USA, noted that hospitals receive such a designation only after significant effort. “The criteria are challenging, as they are designed to set the standards for the best possible breastfeeding support for mother and infant in the maternity setting, insuring high quality of care in this critical area of mother/baby care,” said MacEnroe.

“What this means for our patients—mother, baby and the entire family—is a healthy start to their life together,” said Stacie Amarantos, Director of Maternal Child Services at St. Mary. “Most parents prefer a baby-friendly hospital, where the babies are not separated from their parents at any time. The babies are calmer and get a better start at breastfeeding,” she said.

Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center President/CEO Joel Yuhas said the baby-friendly status is a reflection of patient care overall. “St. Mary is passionate about caring for people while they are in the hospital and when they go home. This baby-friendly designation moves us closer to meeting important public health goals for the youngest members of our community and for their parents,” he said.

Maternity care is a large specialty at St. Mary Medical Center, where more than 2,700 babies are born each year. The hospital has worked toward Baby-Friendly status for five years, hiring lactation counselors and providing specialized education to more than 150 nurses in Maternal Child Services. Thanks to grants from the McBeth Foundation and First 5 LA, the hospital has been able to develop an excellent start for babies born at St. Mary.

Baby-Friendly® USA is the accrediting body for the nationwide Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to improve the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed their babies.

Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center joins two other Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, St. Bernardine Medical Center and Community Hospital of San Bernardino, as Baby-Friendly facilities.

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