DeKalb Medical Becomes First Georgia Hospital to Earn Baby-Friendly Designation

January 26, 2015

DeKalb Medical is leading the way in fostering a healthy and safe environment for mothers and their babies as the first hospital in Georgia to achieve the prestigious Baby-Friendly designation from Baby-Friendly USA.  In meeting the requirements to earn this international distinction, the hospital was also awarded a 5-STAR Hospital Recognition from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Baby-Friendly USA is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Based on the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

Coordinated by DPH’s Maternal and Child Health Section, the Georgia 5-STAR Hospital Recognition program is awarded to hospitals that have accomplished all ten steps of the “Baby-Friendly” designation.  Hospitals and birthing facilities that accomplish each step of the Baby-Friendly designation are awarded one star for every two steps implemented from the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  Hospitals are also required to complete the Georgia Breastfeeding Program-Scorecard Tool to receive their stars.

“This is a great accomplishment for our hospital and we could not be more proud,” said Rose McKelvie, DeKalb Medical, Executive Director, Women and Infant Services.  “It has been a long journey and a lot of work but we are committed to bringing the best child birth options to expecting mothers and families in the community.”

The designation process began in June 2012, when DeKalb Medical was chosen as one of 90 hospitals in the United States to participate in the Best Fed Beginnings Collaborative.  Best Fed Beginnings is a project for improving breastfeeding rates in the U.S. by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aligned with Baby-Friendly USA. The Best Fed Beginnings project is an active participant of DeKalb Medical achieving the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.

“To be one of the 90 hospitals selected, and one of the seven selected in Georgia, says a lot about where we are as a facility,” McKelvie continued.  “As a hospital, we decided that the best way to continue to lead in maternity was to work towards the Baby-Friendly designation in conjunction with Baby-Friendly USA.”

There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide.  Currently there are 227 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States.  The Baby-Friendly designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed.  The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

The Georgia 5-Star Hospital Initiative, funded by the Preventive Health Block Grant, began in 2012 and nine hospitals were funded to implement evidence-based breastfeeding maternity care practices.  To date, there are nine Georgia hospitals who are participants in the Georgia 5-Star Hospital Initiative.  The nine hospitals include:
  • Gwinnett Medical Center-Lawrenceville
  • Medical Center of Central Georgia-Macon  
  • Midtown Medical Center-Columbus
  • Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital-Albany
  • Southeast Georgia Health System-Brunswick 
  • Wellstar Kennestone Hospital-Marietta
  • Tift Regional Medical Center-Tifton
  • Memorial Health University Medical Center-Savannah
  • Crisp Regional Hospital-Cordele 
DPH provides education, training and practical support as incentives to make it easier for birthing hospitals to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as defined by Baby-Friendly USA, and thus become eligible for Baby-Friendly designation.
“This is not only a change in hospital procedure, but also a cultural mindset,” stated Dr. Cathy Bonk, OB/GYN and DeKalb Medical board member. “With this mindest, we learned, educated and instilled the 10 steps of Baby-Friendly designation. This was imperative to us and also led to our Five-Star designation.”
For more information on the Baby-Friendly designation, please visit  To learn more about DPH’s 5-STAR Hospital Initiative, visit

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