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Providence Health System Receives Prestigious International Recognition as Designated Baby-Friendly Hospital

Feb 16, 2016


For Immediate Release
Contact: Diane R. Johnson, MPH, 202-854-7973 

Providence Health System Receives Prestigious International Recognition as Designated Baby-Friendly® Hospital

The only community-based, safety net hospital in the District to receive Word Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund Certification 

(Washington, D.C.) February 16, 2016– Providence Health System, the longest continually serving hospital in Washington, D.C. – and a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system – announced today its designation as a Baby-Friendly® hospital. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund to encourage and recognize hospitals and birth centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding. Currently there are only 332 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States and more than 20,000 worldwide. This designation verifies that a birthing facility has implemented the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Providence is one of only two Baby-Friendly hospitals in the District and the only community-based hospital to be awarded this distinction. 

“Providence began this journey to Baby-Friendly designation in 2012, and we have made amazing progress since in supporting breastfeeding as the standard of care for newborn infants and mothers,” said Duane Erwin, interim CEO and president of Providence. “We look forward to being at the forefront as other area hospitals promote breastfeeding and seek their own Baby-Friendly designation.”

With the support of the Center for Perinatal Advocacy, the Providence team implemented a series of measures to earn this distinction, and underwent a rigorous on-site Baby Friendly evaluation last April to measure the success of its initiatives. These enhancements to patient care included counseling for all mothers about breastfeeding, assisting other hospitals to encourage breastfeeding, expansion of its lactation program, increased breastfeeding resources, and training for all staff nurses on breastfeeding assistance and support.

“Because breastfeeding is the best care, this designation supports perfectly Providence’s mission of providing excellent and compassionate clinical care to all, regardless of ability to pay,” says Gabriela Garcia, Director of the Center for Perinatal Advocacy and one of the leaders of the Baby-Friendly certification process.  “Exclusively breastfed infants have a reduced risk of lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, serious colds, ear and throat infections, and sudden infant death syndrome.”

About Providence

Providence Health System (www.provhosp.org) is a 408-bed hospital in Washington, D.C., with expert medical staff of more than 500 providers. Founded by the Daughters of Charity in 1861 with its charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Providence is the longest continually serving hospital in the District. Located near the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Providence is situated on a 36-acre campus within the vibrant Brookland community in northeast D.C. Our Catholic health ministry improves the health of individuals and of our community with compassion and justice and we are mission driven to serve all persons with joy, care and respect. Providence is proud to be member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health system.

About Ascension

Ascension (www.ascension.org) is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all persons with special attention to persons in poverty and struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 aligned providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 129 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.


Press Inquiries Contact:
Diane R. Johnson, MPH

Main hospital Phone: (202) 854 7000

Providence Hospital, 1150 Varnum Street, N.E. Washington, DC 20017 2180