KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — New moms who need a little extra help are now able to receive free breast pumps through an East Tennessee health system.  

Cherokee Health Systems Pediatrician and lactation consultant Dr. Sarah Beth Eriksen started the program called “Pump Depot” after noticing that her patients were struggling to receive access to care.  

“The reason we started the Pump Depot [is], about a year ago I started seeing moms and babies together in the clinic who had breastfeeding concerns or challenges, and so we offered them visits for them to come in together and see me for help, but a lot of them, we were finding did not have a breast pump.” 

She said over half of her patients are of a minority, and many are on TennCare or emergency insurance.

“Something we’re really passionate about here at Cherokee is reducing barriers to access to care, especially for those who are coming from marginalized communities that we know are at a higher risk for negative impacts to their health,” Eriksen explained.  

“The types of pumps that we’re giving people are really high quality, double electric breast pumps.” 

Dr. Eriksen said that patients would come into their offices several days or even weeks postpartum without having a way to properly produce milk or feed their child naturally. That’s why she partnered with a medical company to make it easier for patients to obtain the equipment they need right there in the office. 

“We’ve given away probably about 100 so far,” Cherokee Health Community Health Coordinator Emmalyn Troupe said.

Troupe said these particular breast pumps can cost upwards of $300 to $400, which is now a price tag these parents no longer have to worry about and no longer have to wait to receive in the mail.  

“I always hear a sigh of relief when I say I’m able to give one to them,” Troupe said.  

People who qualify are patients under most types of medical insurance, including TennCare. 

Cherokee started the program in one of its West Knoxville clinics but is working to expand it into its other East Tennessee offices.