First Baby-Friendly Hospital in Arkansas

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Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson is the first hospital in Arkansas to be recognized by Baby-Friendly USA Inc. as a Baby-Friendly designated birth facility, according to a news release.

Willow Creek is one of four hospitals in the network of Northwest Health System of Springdale.

“We have always been ‘Baby-Friendly,’” Sharif Omar, chief executive officer of Northwest Health, said in the statement. “This designation simply affirms our commitment to the safest and highest quality care for our newborns and moms.”

Baby-Friendly USA manages the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

According to the release, the initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Worldwide, more than 20,000 hospitals and birth centers are designated as Baby-Friendly. The United States has 345.

“The Baby-Friendly designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed,” according to the release. “The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.”

Through June 30, fees for hospitals to complete the four-phase process and earn the designation are $11,700, according to the Baby-Friendly USA website, Designated facilities pay an annual fee.

Births at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital increased more than 5 percent in 2015. Last year, 2,661 babies were born at the hospital, up from 2,529 in 2014.