Medical center earns recognition for efforts promoting health

St. Mary’s Medical Center has earned recognition for efforts to promote the health of not only hospital patients, but also their families, visitors and staff.

The Grand Junction hospital has achieved gold-level recognition as a partner of the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment developed the program as part of efforts to promote a culture of wellness in the state.

St. Mary’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Western Colorado to achieve gold-level designation and only gold-level hospital that also has earned the Baby Friendly Hospital designation.

The Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact program offers four levels of recognition: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. To receive gold-level recognition, St. Mary’s had to meet criteria based on healthier food and beverage options, marketing and efforts to promote breastfeeding among new mothers.

“The nutrition-based standards include patient meals, retail meals, vending, beverage offerings and ensuring access to free drinking water. We make healthy living literature available in our cafe and we educate associates on mind, body, spirit wellness through initiatives developed by our wellness committee.  Being a designated Baby Friendly Hospital was also a factor in us receiving the gold level,” said Cindy Ortiz, community health improvement manager at St. Mary’s.

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund launched the Baby Friendly Hospital initiative to recognize hospitals and birthing centers that promote infant feeding and bonding between mothers and newborns. St. Mary’s had to implement and demonstrate 10 steps to earn the designation.

“As a regional medical center, we understand we play a big role in not only caring for the sick, but also working to instill a healthy lifestyle for our community.  Making these positive nutritional changes is just one more step in the right direction towards improving health and wellness in our community,” Ortiz said.

The next step is to work on achieving platinum-level recognition, Ortiz said.

“We are ecstatic with gold, but know we can do even more,” she said. “We are currently developing a steering committee to further strengthen our commitment and ensure we continue to improve our nutritional environment. We hope to have new plans and policy in place to soon reach the platinum level.”