Vending machine at Johns Hopkins Hospital dispenses breastfeeding equipment for employees

BALTIMORE - After decades of serving up junk food and drinks, vending machines are now peddling technology, movies, even jewelry.

"You can get a vending machine company to build you a vending machine to do just about anything," said Meg Stoltzfus, Lifespan Services Manager at Johns Hopkins.

Stoltzfus should know, she gave life to a breastfeeding equipment vending machine.  The perfect solution to what she calls a big problem for working mothers at Johns Hopkins, they often work unusual hours and need to pump numerous times during a shift.

"There are multiple days when I rush out of the house and I forget to bring my breast pump parts,” Nurse Manager Modupe Savage said.  “A lot of times in the past I would have to go back home to get it."

The machine offers convenience on the go

"This being here is the best thing ever," said Savage.

The self-serve kiosk took about a year to develop.  For a discount, moms who work at the hospital can trade plastic for the parts they need.

"Something that cost $10 in the store an employee can purchase for $3 to $4 in the vending machine," Stoltzfus said.

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Johns Hopkins has 14 Mothers Rooms across all of their campuses, and each one has hospital grade breast pumps for employees to use.  But only one location has a breastfeeding equipment vending machine.  It's been up and running for about a month, and Stoltzfus says business has been steady.  about 14 different items are stocked from top breast pump manufacturers.

"we offer breast pads, we offer nipple cream, full accessory kits that work with our hospital grade pumps in each of the rooms,” Stoltzfus said.  “We offer bottles, sterilizing bags, it's pretty comprehensive."

Definitely not your typical snack station, but one that is hitting the spot here.

"It's crazy but I love it," said Savage.

If the innovative vending machine catches on, Johns Hopkins may add them to other locations.


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