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Bristol Regional Medical Center, Franklin Woods Community Hospital named as ‘BEST for Babies’ award recipients by the Tennessee Department of Health

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bristol Regional Medical Center, Franklin Woods Community Hospital named as ‘BEST for Babies’ award recipients by the Tennessee Department of Health

Two Ballad Health hospitals have earned the Tennessee Department of Health’s “BEST for Babies” award for their efforts to improve infant care and reduce infant mortality.

Franklin Woods Community Hospital, in Johnson City, and Bristol Regional Medical Center, in Bristol, were among the top birthing hospitals across the state recognized earlier this month by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA).

“This recognition is particularly special because it recognizes our hard work on behalf of our tiniest patients,” said Melanie Stanton, vice president and CEO of Franklin Woods Community Hospital. “Our efforts to implement best practices for infant health are a hallmark of our commitment to the mothers and babies of this region.”

Hospitals must meet the following criteria in order to receive the BEST award:

  • Breastfeeding – It must earn baby-friendly designation, have an increase of 5% in breastfeeding initiation rate from 2017 to 2018 or have a breastfeeding initiation rate of 82% or higher. Breastfeeding is associated with a range of positive health outcomes for both infants and mothers. It supports infant nutrition, brain development and growth and protects infants from diseases, infections, allergies and sickness.
  • Early Elective Delivery – It must have an early elective delivery rate of 5% or less for 2018. Early elective deliveries are births that are scheduled without a medical reason between 37 and 39 weeks of pregnancy. Babies are not fully developed until the 39th week of pregnancy. Early elective deliveries are associated with an increased risk of maternal, neonatal morbidity and longer hospital stays for both the mother and newborn.
  • Safe Sleep – It must have Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification at a minimum of bronze level, or a safe sleep policy meeting current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. In addition, hospitals must submit documentation of crib audits averaging a minimum of 90% safe cribs.

“The team at Bristol Regional Medical Center is committed to a culture of excellence,” said Greg Neal, president of Ballad Health’s Northeast Market. “It is an honor to receive this recognition on behalf of the team in the Deborah H. Quillen Birthing Center, who are committed to meeting and exceeding our high standards.”

Partnerships between the THA and hospitals across the state have helped improve birth outcomes and infant health in Tennessee. The state’s infant mortality rate has decreased, and sleep-related infant deaths in Tennessee declined from 144 in 2017 to 128 in 2018. These results are attributed to increasing breastfeeding rates, promoting safe sleep and decreasing early elective deliveries for Tennessee mothers and their babies.

“This recognition highlights Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Bristol Regional Medical Center as among the best birth centers in the state,” said Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive of Ballad Health. “We know that providing strong starts to infants means a healthier community overall. We are proud to lead the charge as we continue to improve healthcare in the Appalachian Highlands.”

More information on this study and other 100 Top Hospitals research is available at:

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