WATERVILLE — Lisa Smith chose to give birth at Inland Hospital partly because of the good things she heard about it from people she knows.

Smith, 28, of Vassalboro, who gave birth to her son, Asher, at the hospital’s birthing center on Wednesday morning, said she wasn’t happy with her experience at a different hospital when she had her first son two years ago, so she asked around. Based on what she heard, she chose Inland.

Women such as the one Smith spoke to helped Inland become one of eight hospitals in the state recognized Wednesday as a Best Hospital for Obstetrics by WomenCertified, a group that identifies businesses that rate high with female consumers.

The key criteria for making the list of award-winners was whether at least 80 percent of women who used the birthing center would recommend it. At Inland, 85 percent of new mothers gave it a positive review.

Smith said the reviews were right. She said she likes the atmosphere of the rooms, which she said was more inviting than a traditional hospital setting.

“Everything seems to be more centered toward the comfort of the family,” she said. “You have your privacy, yet you still feel like you’re closely monitored.”

Dr. Bill Bradford, chief of Inland’s OB-GYN services, said that the hospital works hard to make the center comfortable for mothers and family without compromising health care.

“We recognize that moms want an extraordinary experience,” he said.

In Maine, eight of 25 eligible hospitals, nearly a third, received the award. That’s a much higher proportion than nationwide, where 356 of 2,866 hospitals, or 12 percent, received the award.

The scoring for the award relies heavily on data from a national standardized survey of patients conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 4,595 hospitals.

The survey, which was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was first implemented in 2008, making it possible to compare patient satisfaction across different hospitals for the first time. The consumer group is part of a larger effort to recognize the increasing importance of patient satisfaction in health care.

Greg Smalter, a spokesman for WomenCertified, said that the group doesn’t assign individual rankings to hospitals that have received the award, but that an absence of negative measures from the federal government means that “it is safe to say they would rank high on our list, in the top 50. Only one other obstetrics hospital in Maine might rank higher.”

Smalter wouldn’t identify the other Maine hospital that might rank higher than Inland.

Delia Passi, founder of WomenCertified, said that the award helps to distinguish Inland from other hospitals in the area for women who are choosing maternity services.

Inland’s president, John Dalton, called the award a “tribute to our providers, nurses and all the staff.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]