PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
June 14, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Tours South Jersey Healthcare Elmer Hospital Highlights Increased Hospital Funding and Baby-Friendly Designation

During a tour of South Jersey Healthcare Elmer Hospital, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd highlighted the state's commitment to quality health care in the FY2013 budget, which provides nearly $1 billion in hospital funding to support care to the uninsured and underinsured.

"This funding strengthens New Jersey's health care safety net for our most vulnerable and provides hospitals with financial support so they can serve their communities," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Governor Christie has again demonstrated his commitment to strengthening health care in our state."

The entire South Jersey Healthcare system will receive $7.4 million in state hospital funding, an increase of more than $138,000 over last year.  South Jersey Healthcare Elmer Hospital will see an increase of $17,000 in state funding in this year's budget.

"We are thankful that Governor Christie and Commissioner O'Dowd continue to demonstrate their support through the budget process for uninsured citizens who seek hospital services," said Chet Kaletkowski, president and CEO, South Jersey Healthcare.

As part of her visit, Commissioner O'Dowd toured the hospital's maternity unit to view the advancements Elmer Hospital made to achieve Baby Friendly status.   South Jersey Healthcare Elmer Hospital was the first hospital in New Jersey to achieve the Baby-Friendly designation.

"It is always gratifying to be recognized for providing exemplary patient-focused care," said Chet Kaletkowski, president and CEO, South Jersey Healthcare. "Being the first hospital in New Jersey to earn Baby Friendly designation speaks volumes about the Elmer Maternity Care team--our nurses, midwives, physicians and lactation consultants. As an organization, we are deeply committed to maternal and child health."

The designation is from Baby-Friendly, USA, an accrediting body that implements the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding.

"There are many health benefits associated with breastfeeding for both mother and child," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Breast milk provides superior nutrition for infants, helps boost their immune systems and reduces the incidence of illness and childhood obesity. Moms that breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia and osteoporosis."

Elmer Hospital is one of only two hospitals in the state that have received the Baby-Friendly designation. Capital Health in Hopewell was the second hospital in New Jersey to receive the designation. 

"Hospitals play a critical role in increasing the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding and I am proud that Elmer Hospital is focused on giving newborns in South Jersey a healthy start in life," added Commissioner O'Dowd.