Public Health Department wins national award

The Dakota County Health Department was honored with the Model Practice Award at the 2017 conference of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The award recognized the health department’s Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments initiative.

The award celebrates local health departments for developing programs that demonstrate exemplary and replicable best practices in response to a critical local public health need. The Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments initiative was one of 41 health department programs to receive the award.

The initiative established a framework and process for local health departments to follow in order to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in their communities. By increasing the number of women who start breastfeeding, and continuing through at least six months, communities can have a significant impact on health in the short and long term. The model uses a 10-step process for local health departments to lead by example for breastfeeding promotion and support.

The development of the initiative was led by Bonnie Brueshoff, director of public health in Dakota County. The model has been further expanded through the Minnesota Department of Health, with additional efforts and tools developed to support success.

“We are proud to receive NACCHO’s Model Practice Award for the Breastfeeding Friendly model. The award is evidence of our commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers and the health of infants,” said Brueshoff. “This recognition is shared with local public health partners and the Minnesota Department of Health, who were willing partners in developing a responsive and innovative public health program to improve health through the promotion and support of breastfeeding.”

Since 2003, NACCHO’s Model Practice Awards have honored programs, resources, and tools that demonstrate how local health departments and their community partners can effectively collaborate to address local public health challenges. Each innovative project receiving the Model Practice Award was peer-reviewed and selected from a competitive group of more than 100 applicants.

Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments is now part of a searchable online database of successful public health practices in areas that range from immunization and maternal and child health to infectious diseases and emergency preparedness. The database provides users an opportunity to learn best practices and discover what resources are needed to implement comparable programs in other jurisdictions.

To read more about the initiative, visit http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/oshii/bf/healthdeptBFF.html.