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Tennessee Celebrates Hospitals Earning "Best for Babies" Award

Department of Health Honors Infant Mortality Reduction Efforts
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 | 09:16am

NASHVILLE  – Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH joined other state and local officials at the Tennessee State Capitol Tuesday, October 31 to announce the first “BEST for Babies” awards to celebrate hospital efforts to reduce infant deaths and give babies and their families the best possible start. TDH has partnered with Tennessee birthing hospitals since 2014 to promote safe sleep practices for infants. The “BEST for Babies” award is the next step forward in helping give Tennessee babies a great start to life. 

“We are pleased and grateful to continue partnering with the Tennessee Hospital Association and birthing hospitals across our state in this initiative,” said Dreyzehner. “These awards recognize our partners’ dedication and success as they strive to ensure Tennessee hospitals are the ‘BEST’ places for babies to be born." 

The BEST award stands for breastfeeding, early elective delivery reduction and safe sleep for Tennessee babies. Hospitals must meet the following criteria to receive the award: 

  • Breastfeeding – an increase of five percent in newborn breastfeeding initiation rates from 2015 to 2016, or a minimum breastfeeding initiation rate of 90 percent in 2016
  • Early elective delivery – hospitals should have early elective delivery rates at or lower than five percent for 2016
  • Safe sleep – hospitals must have received Cribs for Kids® national safe sleep certification at a minimum of bronze level, submitted the TDH annual safe sleep hospital policy report for 2016 and demonstrate a minimum of 90 percent of cribs as safe in crib audits in the 2016 report 

“The criteria for the BEST recognition are challenging but not impossible,” said Tennessee Hospital Association Quality Improvement Specialist Jackie Moreland, RN, BSN, MS. “We encourage all birthing hospitals to continue to meet the BEST criteria.” 

Dreyzehner recognized seven Tennessee birthing hospitals with BEST recognition Oct. 31: • Erlanger – Baroness Hospital, Chattanooga • Hardin Medical Center, Savannah • Indian Path Medical Center, Kingsport • Laughlin Memorial Hospital, Greeneville • Northcrest Medical Center, Springfield • Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, Nashville • Tennova Healthcare – Cleveland, Cleveland  The BEST award will be given annually to qualifying hospitals. 

TDH partnerships with birthing hospitals are an important factor in the success of improving benchmarks for infant health. Breastfeeding rates in Tennessee have increased from 67 percent of infants in 2010 to nearly 80 percent in 2016. Babies are not fully developed until they reach at least 39 weeks of pregnancy. Thanks to the efforts of clinicians and hospitals, rates of babies electively delivered before 39 weeks have plummeted from more than 13 percent of Tennessee births in 2012 to consistently less than two percent through 2016. 

“The BEST recognition is an important part of our ongoing work to prevent infant deaths,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “Hospitals and their staff members are invaluable partners in modeling the best standard of care for babies and helping give Tennessee newborns the best start in life.” 

Learn more about the BEST for Babies Award at  

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at