RRMC used to operate milk center

I believe breast milk is best for babies. So I enjoyed the story on the new breast-milk bank at Providence Medford Medical Center.

But I seem to remember there was another breast-milk bank at Rogue Regional Medical Center many, many years ago that was not mentioned in the article.

What ever happened to that one? Is it still open?

— Mildred R., Trail

Great mammary memories, Mildred. You are correct. There was, indeed, a breast-milk bank at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, according to Grant Walker, hospital spokesman.

RRMC started its program in the early 1980s. Donations were all voluntary, and the milk was screened, cultured and distributed locally, he said.

But in the late 1980s, milk banks around the country — including the one at RRMC — were discontinued out of concern for safety due to the AIDS epidemic, Walker said.

"Afterwards, evolving federal regulations for the screening, collection, processing and dispensing of breast milk made it prohibitive for milk banks to operate in smaller population areas such as Southern Oregon," he said.

The Northwest Mothers Milk Bank in Portland — where the milk from Providence is sent — will use the milk for hospitalized premature or ill babies who need optimal nutrition.

Many of those types of babies are being cared for at Asante's neonatal intensive care unit, said Walker, adding that RRMC receives milk from dispensing centers in Denver, Colo. and San Jose, Calif.

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