May 10, 2012

Best Fed Beginnings Concludes Successful Recruitment

NICHQ receives 235 applications from hospitals across the country

It felt like New Years Eve in the NICHQ office on the afternoon of Friday, May 4. As 5 o’clock approached, the Best Fed Beginnings team huddled together and began its countdown: “10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1…!”

Although there was no singing, there were more than a few high fives to celebrate a successful recruitment process that resulted in the submission of 235 applications from hospitals across the country, including states with no or very few hospitals with “Baby Friendly” designation.

Best Fed Beginnings is a nationwide effort to use quality improvement methods to change maternity care so that it better supports mothers and babies to be able to breastfeed. NICHQ is leading the project, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and working closely with Baby-Friendly USA.

90 hospitals will be selected from the 235 applicants to participate in a 22-month learning collaborative to make system-level changes in the pursuit of Baby-Friendly designation, with the potential to almost double the number of hospitals so certified. This designation verifies that the hospital has comprehensively implemented the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as established in the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

“Momentum has been building since the very moment we announced this initiative last fall,” said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, NICHQ’s president and CEO. “To have this many applicants is extremely rewarding. It affirms the contributions of our many partners and the importance of this opportunity for the health of our nation. I only wish we could accept them all.”

Applicants will be notified of selection decisions on June 11. Project participants will begin work soon thereafter.

NICHQ will be taking significant steps to encourage applicants not accepted for participation to remain involved with the project and hopes that many will continue to pursue Baby-Friendly designation through other means.

“This project is about much more than the 90 participating hospitals,” said Karthi Streb, MPH, NICHQ’s associate director of the Best Fed Beginnings project. “It’s about transforming an entire system of care to provide moms and their babies with the support they need to make healthy decisions for their families. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, and we hope many other hospitals throughout the country will get involved in this important improvement work.”