COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Supply Center Columbus recently opened a new Lactation Room for nursing mothers' comfort and convenience when visiting or working in the facility. The new room came about after officials saw a need to accommodate more mothers and the mothers had been asking for more time.
“DLA has a Lactation Program which is facilitated by the Safety and Occupational Health Division,” Alison McGrath, an Industrial Hygienist with the Safety and Occupational Health Office said. “The previous Lactation Room was no longer able to meet the demand of the growing number of mothers wanting to use the room, forcing them to seek alternative locations to express breast milk.”
The nurse in the Nurse's Station maintained a schedule for the old room's usage, which was located off the Break Room on the first floor of Pod A. As study found that there were too many mothers for the old space to accommodate only one mother at a time could use it. According to McGrath, most mothers use the room an average of three times a day. The old room was only accommodating about nine mothers a day for 20 minutes at a time. Some mothers would ask the nurse to use her exam room if it was free.
The new lactation room is Room A138 and is located on the first floor just down the hall from the old one, McGrath said. The new room has three private stalls and each of them three has a slide lock, comfortable chair, outlet and countertop. The room itself has a door requiring a key for entry, ensuring privacy for the mothers. There is also a microwave and refrigerator for storage of expressed milk.
“I've been using the room the past two weeks and it's great!” Abbie Hogan said. “Having the private stalls is such an improvement over our former room. Before, it was sort of stressful needing to fit everything, including set-up and clean-up, into a 20-minute slot.
“Since there are now three stalls, this allows for 30 minute time slots, which helps a lot. The refrigerator in the room is very convenient as well, so there are less things that we have to cart back and forth.”
Anyone with access to Building 20 can see the nurse to get on the schedule. In addition, Buildings 21 and 306 have lactation rooms, although not as modern as the one in Building 20. McGrath said they will be posting health information in the room that would be relevant to nursing mothers, such as information about local support groups and lactation consultants.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that employers provide a place for an employee to express breast milk, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.