NORTH CONWAY, NH – Memorial Hospital announces the grand opening of a human milk depot in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. The opening event will take place on Thursday, December 14, at 11am at the Main Street Professional Building on Route 16 in North Conway, NH, just across from Delaney’s and just south of the hospital’s main campus. Families, prospective milk donors, healthcare providers, and community members are welcome to attend the family-friendly celebration, which will include a ribbon-cutting, refreshments, and information on how nursing mothers can donate milk.
A milk depot is a community location where screened milk donors can drop off milk for shipment to a milk bank. The milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more milk than their babies need; screens, pasteurizes, and tests the milk; then dispenses it primarily to premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough milk for them. Mothers from the North Conway area will now be able to drop off their milk conveniently at the depot for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE).
With the opening of this location, MMBNE will now have 17 depots in seven states throughout the Northeast. “The presence of a milk depot signifies a deep commitment to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of the community—the fragile babies whose lives depend on safe, pasteurized donor milk,” commented Ann Marie Lindquist, Director of Community Relations for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are delighted to partner with Memorial Hospital to serve the community in this way.”
Katy Jones, a mom from Freedom, hopes to donate milk at the opening. Katy shared her enthusiasm about this new community resource: "I'm so excited to be able to donate. I recognize the urgent need newborns across New England have for breast milk. I'm fortunate to be able to offer a donation for as long as I am able. I'm even more excited Memorial is now going to be a drop-off point!"
Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician approval, and a blood test. These are some of the many measures taken to ensure the safety of milk for the fragile premature and sick babies served by MMBNE and the hospitals that use the milk. Milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or families.
Human milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants. Human breastmilk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.
Donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard supplement to mothers' milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). In addition, an increasing number of communityhospitals with regular and special care nurseries use donor milk when babies need a supplement to their mothers’ own milk. Currently 11 hospitals in New Hampshire offer donor milk: Catholic Medical Center, Cheshire Medical Center, Concord Hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Elliot Hospital, Exeter Hospital, Lakes Region General Hospital, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital, and Wentworth Douglas Hospital.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). MMBNE has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to over 80 hospitals and to families throughout the Northeastern United States since 2011.
Michelle Meader RN, CLC, CBE, who leads Memorial’s Breastfeeding Support Group every week, shared, “Our mothers in the Mount Washington Valley recognize how important breastmilk is to ALL babies. Sometimes a mom can not provide breastmilk or cannot provide enough breastmilk to her baby. When this happens, the best alternative is another mom’s milk. This is made possible by a mom who is donating milk to a milk bank and the milk bank who then makes it accessible to the mother. This is actively saving the lives of premature babies as it drastically reduces necrotizing enterocolitis, a bacterial infection in the intestine of infants.”
“Our mothers in the valley are actively donating their breastmilk to Mothers Milk Bank New England in an effort to help as many babies as possible. This gift of human milk is priceless and the generosity of these mothers is commendable. To support these mothers in their efforts, Memorial Hospital (under the guidance of MMBNE) is becoming a donor depot, with the intent of making the donation drop off process more accessible for moms.”
“I am so very proud of the moms in the valley that have worked hard in establishing their milk supply and have felt compelled to donate as well. This is not an easy task and these mothers should know how appreciated their efforts are. Together, we are diligently pressing forward to ensure every baby who needs human milk has access to it.”
Memorial Hospital boasts a 98% breastfeeding initiation rate, higher than the NH state average of 86.4% of infants who ever breastfed. Memorial Hospital hosts weekly breastfeeding support groups on Thursdays at 10am at the Main Street Professional Building, the site of this ribbon cutting event. 67% of mothers consider support groups to be important in influencing their decision to breastfeed beyond a year. Breastfed babies whose moms regularly seek support at this group range from newborns to 3.5 years old. Mothers come from throughout Carroll and Coos counties as well as Oxford County, Maine. Memorial has many trained and certified lactation consultants in their Family Birthing Center, emphasizing their focus on the importance of breastfeeding and also allowing for new mothers to have many resources available for them for breastfeeding success.
Mothers who wish to donate milk can review guidelines on the milk bank website, www.milkbankne.org/donate, then contact a Donor Intake Coordinator for screening at 617-527-6263 x3 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, call Memorial’s Family Birthing Center at 603-356-5461 ext. 2146.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, family birthing center, sleep center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services and the Miranda Center for Diabetes. Physician practices include primary care and family medicine, women's health, orthopedics and sports medicine. The Merriman House, a 45-bed nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's and other memory disorders, is also located on the hospital campus. Together, our staff and providers are committed to meeting the health needs of the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding communities by collaborating with community partners in the delivery of accessible, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality health care.