O’FALLON — HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is excited to share that it is now home to St. Clair County’s first milk dispensary, in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes (Milk Bank WGL). This joint effort with Milk Bank WGL increases access to lifesaving, critical nutrition for pediatric patients in need.

Located in the Women and Infants Center at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, 1 St. Elizabeth's Blvd. in O’Fallon, the milk dispensary will act as a hub where families can purchase pasteurized donor milk for short-term emergency use. Breast milk is an essential nutritional therapy that provides numerous benefits, including infection-fighting factors, growth hormones, and improved nutrition and digestion.

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“There are several reasons why mothers and caretakers may need our dispensary services,” said Amanda Schaefer, MSN, RN, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Women and Infants Center Manager. “They may struggle with low breast milk supply, they may be experiencing an illness or taking a medication that is hindering their ability to breastfeed, or they may have had a child through adoption or surrogacy. We are happy and proud to be the first in our area to provide this service to moms and babies.”

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Milk donations are collected from healthy, lactating women who are screened and approved as donors through Milk Bank WGL. Upon collection, donations are transported to the milk bank’s processing facility in Elk Grove Village, Ill., where the milk is pasteurized to eliminate viruses and bacteria. The pasteurized milk is tested by a third-party lab and distributed to hospitals and outpatients in Illinois and Wisconsin.

“HSHS St. Elizabeth's milk dispensary will provide a valuable service to the community as the first in St. Clair County,” said Amber Barnes RN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC, Clinical Manager, Milk Bank WGL. “This will increase the availability of safe, pasteurized donor milk in Southern Illinois. St. Elizabeth’s demonstrates its commitment to breastfeeding and best practices by implementing this program. We are excited to partner with them,” she said.

Dr. Saba Bajwa, HSHS Medical Group pediatrician, noted, “Babies fed with breast milk have a lower risk of some health issues like obesity, asthma and type 1 diabetes, and they are less likely to have ear infections and stomach bugs. Having this milk bank as a resource will be a great benefit to families with newborns who may need this important nutritional component.”

Milk is available for purchase by debit or credit card only in 4 oz. bottles for $25 each. An online order form and more information about St. Elizabeth’s Hospital milk dispensary can be found at steliz.org/milk. You can find out more about accessing or donating human milk via Milk Bank WGL by visiting their website at milkbankwgl.org.

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