LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Health Department’s effort to encourage businesses to reserve space for breastfeeding mothers seems to be catching on.
Earlier this month, the Health Department presented Modern Corp. of Lewiston with a certificate honoring the recycling and disposal firm for taking part in the initiative.
Elaine C. Roman, the department’s director of planning, joined a colleague, Elise Pignatora, in founding and managing the department’s lactation program, which encourages businesses and organizations to set aside rooms for breastfeeding mothers to pump and store their milk.
Tobias Frederick, Modern’s human resources director, said the company designed and opened a lactation room at its Lewiston headquarters, and plans to open another at its Elm Street location in Buffalo to benefit a pregnant employee.
“Modern is proud to be a Niagara County leader in this workplace initiative,” Frederick said. “Modern is committed to the community, the environment, and the health and safety of all our valuable employees.”
“It’s a small lactation room, but they did a fabulous job,” Roman said of the Lewiston site.
The room is private and contains a refrigerator for the storage of breast milk. There are handwashing facilities nearby.
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, which also has been honored for taking part in the breastfeeding initiative, has a sink in its breastfeeding room. A fridge is nearby. Both formats comply with regulations for breastfeeding rooms, Roman said.
Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston and two Lockport industries, Diversified Manufacturing and Candlelight Cabinetry, also are planning to participate in the partnership.
Roman said studies have shown that breast milk confers many short- and long-term health benefits on infants.
According to a cost analysis published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, if 80 percent of American mothers complied with medical recommendations to breastfeed infants exclusively for the first six months, the U.S. would save $10.5 billion in medical expenses and prevent 741 infant deaths.
County Legislator Richard L. Andres Jr., a member of the Board of Health and a father of three, strongly endorsed the idea.
“Better infant health and less need for formula cuts costs to insurances, as well as to public assistance programs,” said Andres, R-North Tonawanda. “Accommodating breastfeeding mothers in the workplace means mothers are more likely to continue to work, support their families and contribute to our economy.”
For three consecutive years, Niagara County has received $15,000 grants from the National Association of County and City Health Officials to promote breastfeeding. Roman said Niagara has joined with other counties in Western New York in applying for a $1.2 million grant from Albany that could be used throughout the region for a similar effort.