Essentia Health-St. Mary’s meets health challengesA Duluth hospital is the first in the state to meet all three challenges from a statewide coalition seeking to increase healthy practices.
By: John Lundy , Duluth News Tribune
A Duluth hospital is the first in the state to meet all three challenges from a statewide coalition seeking to increase healthy practices.
Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center on Wednesday signed a “Baby Friendly Hospital” letter of intent, the Commons Health Hospital Challenge announced.
St. Mary’s previously met the other two criteria by eliminating the sale of sugary beverages in its facility and by committing to at least 20 percent of the food it serves being locally grown, said Jamie Harvie of Duluth, the Commons Challenge coordinator.
Harvie said he believes St. Mary’s is not only the first hospital in the state but the first in the nation to meet all three criteria.
The challenge was launched in September 2012, and several hospitals have since agreed to one or two of the provisions. St. Luke’s hospital, for example, was the first in the state to cut the sale of sugary beverages, and it also has fulfilled the locally grown food commitment.
Harvie, who is executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future, said Northeastern Minnesota hospitals are continuing to take the lead in achieving the challenge.
“I think the Northland is setting the trend for the rest of the state, and we should be proud of that,” he said.
To be recognized as “Baby-Friendly,” a hospital must agree to implement all 10 steps of a World Health Organization program aimed at encouraging breast-feeding.
Pam Galle, an international, board-certified lactation consultant in Duluth, said all of the hospitals in the seven counties of Northeastern Minnesota are taking steps to do just that, even if they haven’t yet fulfilled all of the requirements.
“It’s important for the health and well-being of mothers and babies and families,” said Galle, who is a member of the steering committee of the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition. “It impacts all of us financially by decreasing health costs for everyone.”
St. Mary’s already is achieving success in emphasizing breast-feeding. Essentia announced this week that 83 percent of new moms at St. Mary’s Birthplace choose to breast-feed, compared with 77 percent nationally.