The McDonough County Health Department has just opened its first milk depot in Macomb -- and it's the first downstate depot to collaborate with The Mothers’ Milk Bank of The Western Great Lakes located in the Chicago suburbs (Elk Grove Village).
Milk depots transport donated breast milk to milk banks before they get sent to hospitals. Milk depots were created so women don’t have to go through the packaging and shipping phase of sending their milk to the milk bank.
Shannon McKee, the breast feeding peer counselor for the Women’s, Infants, and Children’s program (WIC) at McDonough County Health Department, said breast milk is crucial for preterm babies because they can get sick easily.
“Their immune systems aren’t working at 100% yet and breast milk helps as a backup immune system for them,” she said.
McKee says the milk bank prioritizes the milk for babies in the neonatal intensive-care unit.
“Hospitals are ordering breast milk for babies who are patients in the hospital. But also, doctors are able to write an order or a prescription for a baby to get breast milk,” said McKee.
Before a woman can donate milk, she has to go through a phone interview, fill out an application, and undergo blood work. McKee says a typical donation comes from women who have an excess amount of breast milk and want to help babies in need.