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Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne Earns 'Baby-Friendly' Designation
12/01/2011

CLEBURNE, Texas — Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne is the seventh hospital in Texas to earn the World Health Organization’s “Baby-Friendly” designation, an honor recognizing the hospital’s comprehensive approach to support breastfeeding of newborns.

To celebrate, the public is invited to a reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 on the fourth floor Women’s Services department at Texas Health Cleburne. The hospital is located at 201 Walls Drive in Cleburne.

All seven Texas hospitals that have earned the designation are Texas Health Resources hospitals. Nationwide, there are 121 “Baby Friendly” hospitals.

“This designation means we have established a standard of excellence for giving pregnant women and new mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to be successful at breastfeeding,” said Kelly Curlee, R.N.C.-OB, B.S.N., manager of Women and Infant Services at Texas Health Cleburne.

“Breastfeeding not only protects the newborn by building their immune system, but it also has long term health benefits for women. We intend on providing our patients with the very best support, including two lactation consultants on staff, in order for them to meet their individual goals,” said Curlee.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is an international program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) designed to encourage and acknowledge hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is a key strategy of its goal of improving the health of mothers and their children. In its recent Breastfeeding Report Card, the CDC noted that the hospital period is critical for mothers and babies to learn to breastfeed.

A mother’s breast milk provides the best mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for the healthy development of their newborn. Breastfed children have fewer and less serious illnesses than those who never receive breast milk, including a reduced risk of SIDS and fewer occurrences of childhood cancer and diabetes.

In addition, women who breastfeed are less at risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

“We are noticing that babies are better able to maintain their birth weight and show decreased levels of newborn jaundice because of the emphasis on skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding in the crucial moments after birth,” said Curlee. “Baby-Friendly designation is not only about supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed, but also about supporting a family-centered approach to health care, such as moms and babies rooming together.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses Baby-Friendly’s 10 steps for successful breastfeeding and recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively. Texas Health Cleburne’s exclusive breastfeeding rate among term newborns increased from 25 percent to more than 75 percent since the program was launched.

To achieve Baby-Friendly status, hospitals must successfully implement and follow the 10 steps outlined by the program. These include starting breastfeeding in the first hour of life, giving employees extensive training, minimizing separation between mothers and their babies and providing outpatient support after discharge.

Representatives from Baby-Friendly USA, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States, conducted an intensive on-site review of Texas Health Cleburne to assess its breastfeeding program.

“Achieving Baby-Friendly status is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our clinicians and physicians on the medical staff,” said Blake Kretz, FACHE, president of Texas Health Cleburne. “It’s our goal to offer the best possible birthing experience for our moms and the newest member of their families.”

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service hospital that has served Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital’s services include surgery, women’s services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care. Texas Health Cleburne, an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, has been recognized with the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Cleburne.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 24 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, a large physician group, outpatient facilities, and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

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