Junior League Grant Benefits Babies in JPS NICU

April 12th, 2019

A $90,000 grant from the Junior League of Fort Worth will help team members in the JPS Health Network care for some of its most fragile patients.

A baby in the JPS Health Network NICU in Fort Worth, Texas

A baby in the JPS Health Network NICU in Fort Worth, Texas

The money will be used to buy Prolacta, a human milk-based product used to feed newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that weigh less than 1,000 grams, the equivalent of about 2 lbs., 3 oz. Raquel Anderson, manager of the NICU, said the nutritional fortifier helps babies develop their brain more quickly without the irritability to their digestive system that often comes from bovine milk products.

“There is a tremendous neurological benefit that these babies are going to get,” Armstrong said. “We’ll be able to get them more calories and more protein faster.”

Armstrong said JPS was searching for a way to pay for Prolacta when it discovered the Junior League grant program. Prolacta feeding, which can last from 4-10 weeks, costs $8,000-$10,000 per baby. Each year, about 25 babies Armstrong believes would benefit from Prolacta are taken care of in the JPS NICU, potentially costing $250,000 to feed.

According to JPS registered dietician Sarah Wetzler said babies who are fed Prolacta have fewer infections, grow faster, require fewer days of IV nutrition and get to go home sooner.

“Premature babies have increased calorie, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, and mineral needs that human milk alone cannot meet, Wetzler said. “Until recently, the only way to add these nutrients to human milk was with products that were derived from cow’s milk which increased the risk of many complications. With this fortifier, we have the ability to add these nutrients that come straight from human milk.  We provide the most fragile infants with a diet that is 100 percent human milk while still meeting their significant nutritional needs.”

Kristin Sullivan, Executive Director of the JPS Foundation, said the grant is greatly appreciated and that it will make a big difference in stabilizing NICU babies and helping them develop.

“The JPS Foundation is grateful for the generosity of the Junior League of Fort Worth and for the time and funds members will invest in our youngest patients,” Sullivan said. “Junior League has made it possible for JPS to provide an incredibly beneficial human milk supplement to very premature babies, and Junior League members have committed to help rock and hold our infants when their families cannot be present.”

The health network originally asked for $20,000 and its leaders were overwhelmed with gratitude when the Junior League instead decided to award $90,000, payable in installments of $45,000 this spring and next, to the program.

“This gift helps make it possible for JPS to provide even our smallest infants an exceptional patient experience,” Sullivan said.

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