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OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank Hosts Biennial Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s Symposium & Milk Bank Mingle

Permission to Use Photos. Photo Courtesy: OhioHealth

On Friday, April 21, associates with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) from across North America gathered at the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank, located in the OhioHealth Eastside Health Center, as part of a two-day event called the HMBANA Symposium and Milk Bank Mingle.

The Symposium, a two day educational event, consisted of collaboration and inspiration between executive directors, managers, administrative assistants, donor outreach coordinators, pasteurization technicians, and many other important roles involved with the Milk Banking Association. The Milk Bank Mingle, a reception held on Friday evening, was a chance for all the attendees to tour the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank and enjoy Ohio based foods.

“We were honored to be selected to host the HMBANA Symposium and the Milk Bank Mingle, that was originally scheduled for 2021 but was delayed due to the pandemic,” OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank Outreach Coordinator, Christine Smith, said, “This two-day education event and reception is held every two years and is open only to HMBANA milk bank staff from across North America. We had 160 people in attendance, representing 29 of the milk banks.” 

There are 30 non-profit HMBANA milk banks, with 27 in the United States and three in Canada. This event was an opportunity for staff from all the milk banks to get together to share experience, education, and ideas about collection, safe processing and distribution of pasteurized human milk. 

The OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank, under the guidelines of the HMBANA provides pasteurized human milk to fragile infants and as a bridge to mother’s own milk. The Milk Bank, which is in the OhioHealth Eastside Health Center, relies on donations from healthy, lactating women who generously provide milk to help other babies. 

“Each year our milk bank has processed more milk than the last, and as we think about the tiny lives impacted by this, OhioHealth Family Medicine Physician and now OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank Medical Director Jessica Tucker, DO, said, “I am encouraged to increase awareness in our communities and within our organization.” 

Dr. Tucker said having milk banks across North America is crucial for babies who are facing severe physical challenges and are a tremendous support system for their families. 

“We know that babies who are facing severe physical challenges are at high risk for developing life-threatening conditions and that donor milk significantly reduces this risk and improves outcomes. This can mean the difference between a family grieving or celebrating the homecoming of their child. It is profoundly impactful and gives so much meaning to this work,” Dr. Tucker said. 

Smith said having everyone come to the Milk Bank in Whitehall allowed the Milk Bank team in Whitehall to showcase their facility to fellow milk banking staff. 

“It was a huge success,” Smith said, “We showcased Ohio foods by serving Skyline Chili, Schmidt’s Cream Puffs, Marsha’s Buckeyes and Peppermint Lifesavers. Being apart for the pandemic, it was great to see so many of our milk banking friends in person. This was the first time most of them had ever visited our Milk Bank.” 

One of the events during the two-day symposium consisted of a meeting for medical directors; many of whom also practice lactation medicine alongside their duties at their respective milk banks. 

It was encouraging to hear how each provider has responded to provide culturally competent clinical care in their respective communities while supporting the outreach of milk donation, pasteurization, and allocation,” Dr. Tucker said, “I learned from the shared experiences of others and felt inspired with new ideas to bring back to the milk bank here at OhioHealth.” 

“We were very proud to show off our facility and how we process the milk that is donated to us. We hope that people were able to take back ideas and inspiration to their milk banks, as well as see our passion for what we do,” Smith said.” 

Moving forward Dr. Tucker hopes, while working with the Milk Bank team, they can collaborate more with the Central Ohio Lactation Teams on expanded clinical outreach and improved fourth trimester experience for patients and their families. 

“I look forward to working alongside the passionate and experienced team at the milk bank to support continued growth and impact,” Dr. Tucker said.