Elmhurst Hospital won recognition for its infant care program on Friday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund awarded NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst baby-friendly status, a designation conferred by the WHO’s initiative to encourage breastfeeding, regulations on breast milk substitute and early mother-infant bonding.
“This designation is an attestation to the exemplary level of care we provide to our patients in Maternal Child Health. The practices are evidence based, which will lead to improved outcomes for our mothers and babies,” said Dr. Jennifer Pintiliano, the NYC Health + Hospitals associate director of pediatrics.
In 2018, 2,327 babies were born at the hospital. Of the babies born in its new mother/baby unit last year, approximately 96 percent initiated breastfeeding immediately following delivery. The unit also features 15 private rooms for infants to room in, allowing for a bonding opportunity between mother and child.
The designation means that the hospital’s maternity unit complies with UNICEF’s global program to encourage successful breastfeeding techniques and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. Currently there are 561 hospitals and birth centers that hold this designation in the U.S.
UNICEF’s baby-friendly program maintains that human milk fed through direct breastfeeding is the best way for infants to be nourished. The breastfeeding program promotes a hospital-wide breastfeeding policy, training for staff, encouragement for mothers to initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth and the infrastructure to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
The program also enforces the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, which prevents hospitals from advertising baby formula or accepting free or low-cost infant formula.
“I could not be prouder of NYC Health and Hospital Elmhurst and applaud this wonderful achievement,” Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz said. “Our district and it’s residents deserve quality medical care, and NYC Health and Hospitals Elmhurst is here to deliver (literally!).”
The hospital will have a chance to earn a re-designation of this award after a rigorous on-site survey is completed after five years.