Suffolk County residents now have a place to drop off excess breast milk for ill or premature infants.
Peconic Pediatrics in Riverhead celebrated the grand opening on Tuesday of its Long Island milk depot. The facility, which will collect donated breast milk for The New York Milk Bank, is the first of its kind in Suffolk County and only the second milk depot on Long Island, according to the nonprofit Allied Foundation, which donated a freezer to the facility.
Lisa Visentin, a pediatrician and lactation consultant with the Riverhead facility, said the milk collected from donors at the Riverhead site will be sent to the milk bank, based in Westchester. Once there, it will be processed and pasteurized safely and redistributed to hospitals statewide to feed sick or premature babies.
“Milk for premature babies is very limited,” said Visentin, a mother of two. “We’re trying to raise awareness to that, and to let people know that they can donate locally, that they have the option.”
Visentin said she has also worked with several mothers with healthy infants who prefer using breast milk as opposed to processed milk so they can safely pass on the natural antibodies in the milk and keep their children away from the sugar found in processed formulas.
“Some people want an alternative, so they don’t want to give them formula milk for a variety of reasons,” Visentin said.
Alison Manuel, the office manager at Peconic Pediatrics, said some donors at the site just wanted to give back.
“We had a mom here today who has three children,” Manuel said. “With her first child, she had gall bladder surgery, and she stopped producing enough milk to feed her daughter. Now, with her third child, she wants to donate the excess milk.”
To donate milk, interested donors must contact The New York Milk Bank and fill out an application, after which they would undergo a medical screening process to determine their eligibility to donate.
The Riverhead site is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.