Brookings, S.D. – Sept. 23, 2019 – Brookings Health System is among the first hospitals in the nation to successfully complete the EMPower Training initiative, a skills-based competency training to advance knowledge and skills in evidence-based maternity practices supportive of optimal infant nutrition.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the EMPower Training initiative is committed to safe implementation of maternity care practices to support optimal infant nutrition, including breastfeeding, toward the ultimate goal of improving the public’s health.

“As a Baby-Friendly® Designated hospital, we’ve committed ourselves to implementing the policies and practices that help mothers successfully breastfeed their infants,” said Obstetrics Director Mary Schwaegerl. “The EMPower training reinforces these tactics with our team members and demonstrates our dedication to improving the overall health of both mothers and babies.”

As part of this effort, Brookings Health System re-committed to training staff in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) guidance outlined in the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. With the help of the EMPower Training initiative, Brookings Health System is now further equipped with skills needed to help support mothers in the safe implementation of optimal infant nutrition.

In 2015 Brookings Health System became the first non-Indian Health Services hospital in South Dakota to receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation. It hosts the only Baby Café breastfeeding support sessions in South Dakota, providing mothers and babies free access to IBCLC lactation consultants. More information on how Brookings Health System supports nursing moms and babies can be found at

About Brookings Health System
Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic, and medical clinics in Arlington, White and Volga, South Dakota. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, emergency and extended care services. Brookings Hospital provides local access to doctors in Brookings and offers robotic da Vinci surgery and Mako robotic-arm assisted procedures, making it one of the premier rural community hospitals in South Dakota. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at
PHOTO: Mother Tara Hendricks of Brookings feeds her baby boy, Wyatt, at Brookings Health System’s OB unit, New Beginnings Birth Center. The health system was one of the first hospitals in the nation to complete the CDC-funded EMPower Training initiative which teaches safe implementation of maternity care practices to support optimal infant nutrition, including breastfeeding. The training reinforces the policies and practices Brookings Health System has in place as a Baby-Friendly Designated hospital. 

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