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‘Epic milestone’: Penticton hospital gets rare baby-friendly designation

Local healthcare team is one of 29 in Canada to receive the international recognition
Healthcare teams at Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH) and Penticton Heath Centre receiving the Baby-Friendly Initiative designation inside the PRH on Friday, April 5. (Logan Lockhart/Western News)

A multi-year journey ended on Friday, April 5, with healthcare teams at the Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH) receiving international praise.

The PRH and Penticton Health Centre were awarded the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI), a rare designation that recognizes “the high standard of care” provided to babies and new parents.

With Penticton in the fold, just 29 facilities in Canada have been on the receiving end of the award.

“This isn’t easy to do and that’s why it’s not a common designation in Canada,” said Dr. Neil Crofts, chief of staff at PRH.

“Penticton should be very proud that we have this designation.”

Rob Finch, executive director at Perinatal of BC, said the designation represents an “epic milestone.”

“This work is so critically important, it’s life-changing” Finch added, while praising the work of local healthcare teams’ staff and volunteers.

“There’s a level of commitment in Penticton that’s so far ahead of everyone else…I’ll say that with confidence.”

The BFI is a World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations program “that guides optimal care and best breastfeeding and chestfeeding practices,” according to Interior Health.

Its goal is to create an environment where families receive the best care and information to give their children a healthy future, they added.

In 2019, Penticton’s hospital was one of 26 facilities in Canada chosen to participate in a national BFI quality improvement project.

More than four years later — and after fulfilling the requirements of WHO and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund — Penticton is officially a BFI-designated community.

“The goal of the BFI is to make breastfeeding and chestfeeding easier for families by helping them get off to the best start possible, and supporting them for as long as they need,” said Meggie Ross, Penticton’s BFI lead.

The designation was recognized with a ceremony on Friday afternoon, April 5, in front of around 50 people at the PRH’s main entrance.

Staff, volunteers and local patients of the BFL initiative were among those in attendance.

“This is an incredible milestone and one we should celebrate very proud for the families that we serve,” said Lea Geiger, a provincial clinical coordinator at Perinatal Services BC.

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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