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Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital opens breast milk depot to benefit premature babies

Milk depot will be the only one of its kind in central Georgia

Atrium Health Navicent is giving local mothers who breastfeed an easy way to donate their extra supply by opening a milk depot at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital (BKOCH). Pre-screened milk donors will be able to drop off frozen donations beginning Thursday, Feb. 11. The milk depot is the only one of its kind in central Georgia.

Through a partnership with The King’s Daughters Milk Bank in Norfolk, Va., potential donors will undergo a medical screening process including a phone interview, an online form and a blood test. Once cleared, mothers can schedule a milk drop-off at Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. The milk will then be sent to The King’s Daughters Milk Bank where it will undergo additional processing and pasteurization. The processed milk can then be dispensed by hospitals, including Atrium Health Navicent, through a prescription or physician’s order.

There’s no fee to donate and the milk is provided to premature babies at no cost.

“We are excited to open a milk depot here in Central Georgia, making it easier for nursing mothers to share breast milk with babies in need,” said Atrium Health Navicent President and CEO Delvecchio Finley. “This is just one more way that Atrium Health Navicent is working to improve our community’s health, elevate hope for the next generation and advance healing for all.”

Babies born prematurely, before 34 weeks, need time to be able to grow and mature before being able to breastfeed directly from their mother. Breast milk is the preferred and recommended form of nutrition for preterm infants. In some cases, a mother may be unable to provide breast milk or may choose not to. For those instances, donor milk is used to help babies get the nutrition they need to thrive.

In 2020, nearly half of the babies admitted to Atrium Health Navicent’s neonatal intensive care unit received donor breast milk, totaling 21,290 ounces. One ounce of breast milk can provide nutrition for as many as four premature babies.

Studies show that breast milk is tied to a number of health benefits for babies. For premature babies in particular, the neonatal intensive care unit at BKOCH has seen cases of a devastating intestinal condition reduced dramatically for those that received breast milk.

“Since beginning a regimen using breast milk in 2016, outcomes for many high-risk, premature babies have improved,” said Dr. Mitch Rodriguez, Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at BKOCH. “Since we receive breast milk from King’s Daughters Milk Bank, it’s only fitting that we provide support in collecting milk from donors.”

The King's Daughters Milk Bank at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters is honored to partner with Atrium Health Navicent in the establishment of a non-profit, hospital-based Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) milk depot in Macon, said Ashlynn Baker, Director of The King’s Daughters Milk Bank.

“The milk depot's presence will serve not only as a milk donation resource center but also a collection site for altruistic, screened and approved milk donors to donate their surplus expressed breast milk and to "Share the Health" with critically ill infants in the region and beyond,” Baker said.

Mothers interested in donating can call (478) 633-0319 for additional information about screening requirements and drop-off procedures.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for health care consumers’ through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.


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