W.W. Hastings Hospital designated “Baby-Friendly”


W.W. Hastings Hospital nurse Betty Jo Scraper (left) visits with first-time parents Kyle and Jillian Decker, of Stilwell, and their newborn son, Kylan, in the labor and delivery unit.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Hastings Hospital is officially designated a “baby-friendly” hospital by the national accrediting agency Baby-Friendly USA.

Hastings officials spent more than two years working toward the certification, which signals a gold standard of care for promoting breastfeeding and mother and infant bonding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is also a global initiative of the World Health Organization.

In calendar year 2014, W.W. Hastings Hospital delivered 763 babies.

“We are honored to be the first tribally operated hospital in Oklahoma designated as a baby-friendly hospital,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “This designation shows our continuing commitment for strong, healthy families in our communities.”

To become certified, a hospital must adopt 10 practices to promote breastfeeding, including skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant within the first hour of life and rooming the infant 23 out of 24 hours per day with the mother. Hospitals must have written policies that staff is trained on, give no pacifiers to infants and foster support groups.

“This is the best health care from the beginning of life,” Carrie Rigsby, nurse educator for Cherokee Nation Health Services, said. “Encouraging and supporting a mom to breastfeed is such a huge health improvement for a mom and baby’s long-term health. With our high rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and obesity, this information gives our families some hope to lower those numbers.”

W.W. Hastings Hospital has added resources for new mothers, including 24-hour breastfeeding rooms, a breastfeeding support group, Labor and Delivery suites and additional follow-ups by pediatricians.

For more information on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit

Cherokee Nation News Release
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