(GARDEN CITY, KAS) St. Catherine Hospital (SCH) has been selected to be among the first hospitals in the nation to join the EMPower Initiative to enhance maternity care practices and work toward achieving the Baby Friendly USA(c) designation. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched in the United States in 1996, designates "Baby-Friendly" hospitals that meet the criteria for women to initiate and continue with breastfeeding.

EMPower is a hospital-based quality improvement initiative focusing on maternity care practices aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving public health.

As part of this initiative, SCH will receive ongoing support in breastfeeding practices from experienced coaches, as well as staff education training and resources in lactation education. Moms, babies and families will benefit by having more community support and education. These monies will also be used to help cost share training and development fees for current and future programs such as the breastfeeding clinic, new technology, and breastfeeding education. With the right information, and the right support system, most women who choose to breastfeed are able to successfully achieve their goal in the right situation.

As a regional hospital providing care to western Kansas, eastern Colorado and the panhandle of Oklahoma, SCH is committed to providing excellent patient care and the highest quality services to patients and their families. Providing the right start for newborns is crucial to their overall well-being. SCH provides a comprehensive birth experience including techniques to secure early bonding such as mother baby bonding (skin to skin stimulation), encouraging babies first feeding within the hour after birth, and supporting the mother's overall goals and birth plan.

In addition to the EMPower grant, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund from Hutchinson, KS has awarded SCH $20,000 for a grant identified as the "Baby Friendly Initiative Support Grant." Funding will begin July 1, 2015. The next steps at SCH will include creating a comprehensive implementation plan that includes key members of the hospital and community.

For more information on the EMPower Initiative, go to www.empowerbreastfeeding.org. Baby Friendly Initiative Support Grant information can be found at www.healthfund.org/grants and the Baby Friendly Destination website is www.babyfriendlyusa.org.

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"We are excited and honored to be one of the 100 hospitals across the nation to receive the EMPower Initiative, said Renee Hulett, maternal child director. "The initiative, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will assist us in achieving Baby Friendly US designation and we are proud to be able to bring this to western Kansas."

About St. Catherine Hospital
As a 132 bed Joint Commission accredited regional health care center in southwest Kansas, St. Catherine Hospital is ahead of the curve in health care technology and innovations. The growing, active medical staff includes full time Hospitalists, as well as specialist services in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Critical Care, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Occupational and Aviation Medicine, Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Audiology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Nephrology, Radiology, General Surgery, and Urology. Exceptional care, extraordinary people...it's what makes the St. Catherine Hospital difference. For more information, please visit www.stcatherinehosp.org.

About Centura Health
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 18,100 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 15 hospitals, six senior living communities, health neighborhoods, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life(r) Colorado, we are making the region's best health care accessible and affordable in every community we serve. We believe you can inspire the people you care about to live healthier lives by encouraging them to do the little things that can make a big difference. We're Centura Health, and we're here for your health. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit www.centura.org.

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