Partnership with Northwest Mothers Milk Bank provides donor milk to Pacific Northwest infants in need
EvergreenHealth has recently established a breast-milk donation program to connect vulnerable babies in need of breast milk’s nutrients to local donor moms through a partnership with Northwest Mothers Milk Bank (NWMMB). With the help of EvergreenHealth, NWMMB can now supply milk to hundreds of additional parents spending sleepless nights watching over their premature or ill babies in neo-natal intensive care units (NICU) across the Pacific Northwest.
EvergreenHealth is one of only a few breast milk drop sites in the greater Seattle area. It began the program in response to generous local moms looking for ways to help families caring for premature infants who could benefit from an additional supply of nutrient-rich breast milk.
“We treat babies every day who, for various reasons, can’t have their own mother’s milk,” said Jeanne Tate, RN, charge nurse of EvergreenHealth’s Breastfeeding Center. “As advocates of breastfeeding, we are overjoyed to be able to facilitate milk donation opportunities, which will empower local families to provide life-saving breast milk to babies across the Pacific Northwest. Every donation has the capacity to alter the course of a baby’s life and provide that baby with the very best start.”
The milk drop donation program at EvergreenHealth is a three step process. First, the hospital refers potential donor mothers to NWMMB. Second, the bank conducts a thorough screening process, including a phone interview and in-depth medical exam, to ensure it is sourcing nutrient-rich milk from mothers whose own babies are healthy and well-nourished. Third, approved donors pump in the privacy of their own homes and bring their frozen milk to EvergreenHealth, where donations are collected and shipped overnight to NWMMB. The milk bank then pasteurizes and cultures the donated milk and distributes the frozen milk to babies in need with a physician’s prescription.
Northwest Mothers Milk Bank, located in Portland, Ore., is one of 15 nonprofit milk banks in the nation that supplies safe and responsibly sourced breast milk necessary for healthy infant development. NWMMB works with 10 collection centers across the Pacific Northwest to gather milk for infants whose own mother’s milk is not available. NWMMB is accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), and meets strict standards for donor screening and milk processing.
“Milk drop locations are a critical step in the process of delivering donor milk to fragile infants who would otherwise be at a developmental disadvantage,” said Joanne Ransom, co-executive director of Northwest Mothers Milk Bank. “Our objective is to reach as many premature, ill and vulnerable infants as possible. Our partnership with EvergreenHealth not only simplifies the donation process and extends our reach, but also acts as a friendly face that continuously delivers personal and intimate care.”
The majority of milk-donation recipients are infants in NICUs. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General, breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies and promotes normal growth and development. Human milk has a medicinal effect on vulnerable infants and has proven to reduce incidents of fatal illness, disease and infection among preterm babies in NICUs, often shortening infant hospital stays.
March of Dimes, a nonprofit focused on improving the health of mothers and babies, reports that more than 450,000 preterm babies are born each year. In 2013, 9.9 percent of babies born in Washington and 9.1 percent of babies born in Oregon were premature. On average, 169 babies are born preterm each week in Washington and 87 babies are born preterm each week in Oregon.
In addition to the milk drop program, EvergreenHealth demonstrates continued dedication to breastfeeding, lactation and infant care through its nationally recognized Breastfeeding Center and Postpartum Care Center.
EvergreenHealth’s work to support successful breastfeeding has earned the hospital recognition as a Care Award facility from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), as well as the designation of Baby-Friendly Hospital by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. In addition, EvergreenHealth’s Maternity Care programs have been recognized with five stars by Healthgrades® for nine consecutive years.
More information about EvergreenHealth and the milk drop donation program is available at www.evergreenhealth.com or by calling the EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigator & Healthline at 425-899-3000.