CROWN POINT, Indiana - Franciscan Health Crown Point recently became the first area hospital in Northwest Indiana to offer a donor breast milk program for newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit whose mothers are unable to sufficiently supply any or enough of their own milk.
The Milk Bank in Indianapolis, which began the program in 2005, provides milk to the unit. Donated milk is sent to the bank by mothers, or can be dropped off at area milk depots for shipment. Once received by the bank, the donated milk undergoes stringent testing and processing, before being delivered to hospitals. The local milk depot, located at Crown Point Obstetrics and Gynecology, 800 West Burrell Drive, is run by Lavawn Souther.
Souther, who also is a lactation consultant, said, "The depot gives moms a place to come where they supply milk they freeze at home and we then ship to Indianapolis, which then supplies that milk to hospitals." She commended Franciscan Health for being first to offer the program locally.
Edythe Oliver, who manages the Crown Point hospital's NlCU, was instrumental in bringing the program there, after having been involved with it previously at another hospital. "In the last few years, donor milk has become the standard of care in NICUs. It is used if moms are unable to provide their own, or as an adjunct, to their supply. Breast milk is the golden standard in nutrition for infants and is the preferred alternative for sick and premature babies," Oliver said. "In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, breast milk is considered not only as nutrition, but as an integral part of the medical care plan. Breast milk offers immunoprotective factors, is more easily digested and offers better immune protection, even after discharge of medically fragile infants. This is an extra important service we now can offer our families."
Angela Bruszewski, of Winfield, was the hospital's first participant, along with daughter, Leighton. Bruszewski used a similar program after she and her husband, Chris, welcomed their first daughter, Brianna, now 2, who was born in Chicago.
"I was really sick for two weeks (with her latest child) and had trouble with my milk supply, so the program came into fruition here just when we needed it. It eases my mind to know Leighton can have breast milk instead of formula. It is very convenient and an awesome program to be able to offer mothers."
For more information, call the NICU, (219) 757-6004; the Indiana Milk Bank, toll free, (877) 829-7470; or Crown Point Obstetrics and Gynecology, (219) 663-9913.