10:03 AM

Colorado hospitals earn recognition for nutrition, breastfeeding


Intermountain Health’s Colorado hospitals were recognized by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for efforts to offer healthier food and beverage options and promote breastfeeding through the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact and Colorado Baby-Friendly Hospital Collaborative. The initiatives are part of the state’s work to promote healthy eating and active living to reduce rates of death and disease from chronic illness among Coloradans. 

Only 45 hospitals in Colorado received the honor, and it’s an even bigger achievement since Intermountain is the first health system in Colorado to have each of its hospitals participate in the Compact. The care sites include St. Mary’s Medical Center, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Platte Valley Medical Center, Lutheran Medical Center and Saint Joseph Hospital. 

The Compact is an agreement by hospitals that share a mission to protect and promote the health of their patients and their families, visitors and staff. It is a state-wide initiative for hospitals throughout Colorado to improve the nutrition environments by increasing the availability of healthier foods and beverages and reducing or eliminating unhealthy items using the Compact framework. In doing so, hospitals are working to develop a culture of wellness and contributing to the state's goal of making Colorado “the healthiest state.” 

Each care site participates in different ways and on various levels from eliminating sugary beverages, to offering a wider range of healthy eating options to getting rid of fried foods, and more. 

“The largest impact our hospitals have made is in the variety of healthy options available, particularly in our retail spaces,” said DeNae Alva, director of Food & Nutrition Services at Platte Valley and Good Samaritan. “Patient food has always been the focus and bringing in retail, catering, breastfeeding programs, etc., allows us to provide our patients, staff and communities healthy and delicious options. Our hospitals serve some vulnerable populations and it’s our job to make sure they have access to great food at an affordable price.”   

Since it began in 2014, the Healthy Hospital Compact has supported hospitals to change food and drink options in hospital cafeterias, vending machines and patient menus. Additionally, the number of Baby-Friendly-designated hospitals in Colorado has grown from three in 2013 to 14 in 2023. 

Nutrition is directly linked to recovery and overall health, reducing readmission rates for patients, preventing illnesses and more. This year, hospitals were recognized for their commitment to a healthy community by increasing the availability of healthy food and beverages and reducing unhealthy options as well as implementing evidence-based breastfeeding policies to support families and employees. 

Additionally, Colorado’s Intermountain care sites were among 41 hospitals with the Celebrate 6 Award of Breastfeeding Excellence. The hospitals have implemented at least six of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. These are proven policies and practices known to increase breastfeeding success and improve maternal and infant health outcomes. 

“A well-balanced diet and healthy offerings start on day one for our new moms so the Baby-Friendly designation our hospitals have, and this achievement is really special to us,” said DeNae. 

Learn more about the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/colorado-healthy-hospital-compact and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/breastfeeding-essentials.