School of Nursing

KUMC announces Express Stations, Lactation Support Policy


Aug 22, 2011

Just in time for World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) announced on July 22 the approval of the Lactation Support Policy and the creation of multiple Express Stations to allow nursing mothers the opportunity to pump breast milk following their return to work.

In March, 2010, The Affordable Care Act was passed and included a provision that requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a place other than a bathroom facility for women to express breast milk at work. In December, 2010 – Healthy People 2020 was issued and included Maternal, Infant, Child Health Objective #22 that called for increasing the proportion of employers that have workplace lactation support programs. In January 2011, Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” which also included support for breastfeeding in the workplace. According to the “Call to Action,” “Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma and those who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese”. It also stated that mothers themselves who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

In the spring of 2010, Karen Wambach, PhD, RN, IBCLC, University of Kansas School of Nursing associate professor, then Chairperson of the KUMC Faculty Assembly, conferred with KUMC administration regarding the need to provide space for breastfeeding mothers to express their milk in the workplace and school setting. To document the needs of the childbearing age faculty, staff, and students of the KUMC, Wambach and graduate student Megan McDonald, BSN, conducted a survey in fall, 2010. “Survey respondents indicated a great need for lactation support policies and designated space for private express rooms,” Wambach said.

The KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor's Office invested $60,000 to create the Express Stations. Approximately another $30,000 will be invested into Miller and Wahl Hall East in the next 12 months to provide Express Stations in these areas of campus. At the same time, the KUMC Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS) applied to the KUMC Auxiliary Organization for a grant to help fund equipment for breastfeeding facilities on the KUMC campus. In January 2011, the KUMC Auxiliary Organization awarded a grant to WIMS. The end result of all of these efforts and the KUMC administration support is the establishment of seven Express Stations on the KUMC campus.

“New rooms are now located in the high-need spots identified in the survey. KUMC is now in line with the breastfeeding promotion efforts of the United States,” Wambach said.

“KUMC's policy is straightforward and the rationale is simple,” according to Chris Lyon, KUMC associate vice chancellor for human resources. “Providing accommodations for breastfeeding women is not only good for the mother and her child, but also good for the organization,” Lyon said. “Research demonstrates that organizations that support breastfeeding experience cost-savings thanks to less turnover, less absenteeism and higher productivity,” he added.

Nursing mothers who want to use the Express Stations are asked to speak with someone in the benefits section of the KUMC Human Resources Department, whether in-person at 1044 Delp, by telephone at 913-588-5087 or by sending an email request to ExpressStations@kumc.edu. A designated member of the benefits team will then grant users permission through the system to reserve Express Stations and will walk users through the process of how to reserve a room, as needed.

Individuals also need to advise their supervisors of the time needed away from work to express breast milk, to discuss any potential impacts to work duties during these anticipated absences and to help ensure work is appropriately covered during such absences. Slightly different rules apply based on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt, consistent with the requirement of applicable wage and hour laws, as noted in the policy. The full policy can be found at http://www2.kumc.edu/hr/benefits/expressstation.html.

For additional breastfeeding support information, please visit: http://www2.kumc.edu/wims/WIMS_family_issues.html. This page, along with Breastfeeding Accommodations at KUMC webpage http://www2.kumc.edu/wims/breastfeeding_information_KUMC_WIMS.html is a collaborative effort of the WIMS organization along with the efforts of HCM, Karen Wambach and Sallie Page-Goertz.

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