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GOSHEN -- Goshen General Hospital reports that of the babies born within its walls, 85 percent are breast-fed, a fact that helped it earn a "Baby-Friendly Hospital" designation.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is sponsored by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund to encourage informed infant feeding.
According to Naomi Hoover, a registered nurse and lactation consultant at GGH, it took eight years to meet the program's expectations. Hoover called the application and qualification processes "intense."
"It's education, education, education," she said, "and presenting things in an appropriate, positive way."
Hoover said WHO and UNICEF view breastfeeding as "the gold standard" for feeding babies and the hospital needed to follow their formal 10 steps to reach certification. Those steps include allowing mothers and babies to be together for the first 24 hours, not giving pacifiers to infants and training all hospital workers about the program.
At a press conference Tuesday, Jim Dague, president and CEO of Goshen Health System, announced the new status, but said that it's the work behind the title that's important.
"The recognition of this award is less important than the people sitting behind me and the work they do," he said. He added that "the administration never set out an objective to be a Baby-Friendly Hospital," but it was employees' personal missions that qualified them.
"I celebrate the personal mission more than getting the award," Dague said.
Goshen's Circle of Caring Birthplace is now one of four Baby-Friendly Hospitals in Indiana and one of 100 in the U.S.
Along with Goshen, there are a variety of other birthing options in Elkhart County, including several area hospitals and independent birthing centers.