Got milk? Yes, we do!

Children’s & Women’s new Milk Room is a boon to mothers and babies

To a mother, few things are as crucial as the milk her baby will receive from his very first feeding, onward. But for mothers whose babies have special needs—or those who can’t breastfeed when their babies need to—nutrition can become complicated.

That’s where the Milk Room at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital comes into play.

The Milk Room opened on the 8th floor of the new C&W in December, and is the only formula and breast milk operation open 24/7 in a children’s hospital. After moms bring their milk to the Milk Room, it is inventoried into a database, stored in secure freezers and refrigerators, handled and delivered twice daily to refrigerators in the patient rooms.

“In general, about 40 percent of our babies use the Milk Room in some capacity directly related to breast milk storage and/or preparation every day,” says Emily Yagiela, R.D., Milk Room supervisor. “In the entire C&W, we serve 50-60% of the total population on a daily basis including neonatal, infant and pediatric patients. From failure-to-thrive babies to those with renal failure, cardiology issues and more, we serve them all.”

And serving them all can mean preparing at least 50 mixed formulas a day in addition to breast milk handling. Handling includes fortifying breast milk with additional ingredients, freezing and storing expressed breast milk that can’t be used within the required 48-hour time limit, and dispensing ready-to-feed supplements. The Milk Room also delivers ready-to-feed supplements to adult bone marrow transplant patients.

“Dieticians and physicians work together to determine what is needed. Everything we need to do is based on the CareLink order form from the medical team,” says Yagiela, who is excited about what the facility brings to the hospital.

“Nurses no longer have to prepare formula at the bedside. And preparation is extremely accurate because that is all we do here, and therefore our staff is highly trained and experienced in formula and breast milk preparation.”

Prior to the Milk Room opening, RN staff thawed, organized and fortified breast milk feeds at the bedside prior to each feeding. “Eliminating this practice is estimated to save 60 minutes per week for every RN,” Yagiela says.

In addition, studies show that preparation in a non-centralized operation can lead to increased infection risk, inaccurate preparation methods, and lack of adequate storage and oversight of expressed breast milk.

All Milk Room dietetic technicians have earned ServSafe Certification, which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Conference for Food Protection. Like any facility involving food and food preparation, the Milk Room is regularly inspected by OSEH (Occupational Safety and Environment Health). The Milk Room has passed with flying colors.

And every day, Milk Room staff gets to do something really special—they pack up the milk for a family’s trip home.

See more photos and the full article in Inside View.