When Finney County commissioners gave the go-ahead last week to have a pair of storage rooms at the county administrative building remodeled into lactation rooms, not only was the timing right, but County Human Resources Director Darlene Lucas says it was just the right thing to do.
Commissioners on May 6 unanimously approved a work change order that added $26,429 for the development of the lactation rooms to what is now expected to be a $245,727 overall remodel of the administrative building, 311 N. Ninth St. The firm Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael & Nelson is handling the project.
The plan is to convert a pair of first-floor storage rooms into lactation rooms that will allow county employees who are nursing mothers the opportunity to pump breast milk for their babies during the work day in a private setting.
“Supporting nursing moms at work is not only the right thing to do, but also research tells us breast-fed babies are sick less often, and moms who breastfeed are healthier, too,” Lucas said. “The longer a mom breastfeeds, the less likely she is to experience breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is a huge benefit to the county because it keeps health costs low and morale high.”
The county’s decision comes four months after the State of Kansas unveiled a private lactation room on the first floor of the Statehouse in Topeka.
At the time, Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition Executive Director Brenda Bandy said adding such privates spaces for mothers was a growing trend in the state.
The already-planned remodeling project made the timing right for Finney County to add to that trend, said Lucas, who added that some county employees have had to use public restrooms or the administrative building’s vault to nurse or pump breast milk.
Having a dedicated room for lactation purposes complies with the Fair Labor Standards Act that requires employers to “provide basic time and space accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work.”
“Having a formal lactation support program, with a designated space for pumping, shows employees that Finney County supports mothers who choose to breastfeed,” Lucas said. “That support can mean that mothers may be more likely to return after maternity leave sooner and have higher job satisfaction. Productive, satisfied and experienced employees mean less employee turnover and lower costs in recruiting and training.”
Other components of the administrative building remodel include:
• remodeling a help desk area in the Treasurer’s office;
• turning a first-floor storage area into a larger conference room;
• converting a second-floor storage space into a conference/office area for the HR/payroll office;
• mounting the television in the county commission chambers into the ceiling, which is designed to provide better visibility and conserve space.
Contact Brett Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.