FORT LEE, Va. -- Kenner Army Health Clinic is embracing an opportunity to serve breastfeeding mothers with a newly created lactation room for clinic staff members and beneficiaries.
The addition of the room stems from Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho’s initiative to better serve women’s health needs in military treatment facilities. Lt. Col. Paula Davis-Bonner, chief of Quality Management at Kenner, said a focus group surveyed the clinic last year and determined a lactation room was needed.
“We spoke with staff members and beneficiaries about how we could better meet women’s needs,” Davis-Bonner said. “A private place to breastfeed or pump breast milk was at the top of the list.”
An existing office located inside the laboratory was sealed off, and a new door was cut into the hallway creating a small but comfortable room, according to Tim Nolan, chief of Facilities Management.
“The room has 80 square feet of space and is outfitted with electrical outlets, a baby-changing station and a sink,” Nolan said. “Working to provide a space for moms and babies raised the morale of my team.”
Lt. Col. Eric E. Poulsen, deputy commander for administration, said the project was a group effort among many of the departments at KAHC.
“Care was taken when choosing every element of the room,” Poulsen said. “What color to paint the walls, where to place the sink and changing station, and picking the right furniture were all well thought out decisions. We chose carefully to create a relaxing setting.”
New mom and medical support assistant Sara McShane made the decision not to breast-feed her son when he was born in February partly because when she returned to work there wasn’t a place she felt comfortable pumping breast milk.
“It wasn’t the only reason I chose not to breast-feed,” McShane said. “But knowing that a room like this exists will prevent other moms from having to worry about what to do when returning to work.”
Sgt. Stephanie VanAusdall, a health care noncommissioned officer in the Wilkerson Pediatric Clinic, is expecting her third child later this year. She said she sees how all patients will benefit from this room.
“It’s not uncommon for the parent of a newborn to utilize one of our exam rooms to feed the baby after an appointment,” she said. “This will solve the problem of not knowing where to go to do such an important task.”
Looking down the road, VanAusdall said it’s comforting to know the room exists for this purpose.
“Knowing that I won’t have to displace a co-worker or take an exam room out of rotation to pump makes it more likely that I can breastfeed my baby even after I return to duty,” VanAusdall said.
The lactation room is located in the corridor near the Eagle Eye Clinic and the Radiology and Laboratory waiting areas and is set to open in early June.
Kimberly K. Fritz, KAHC Public Affairs Specialist