RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) marked Wednesday, January 23 across its system as the second annual statewide observance of Maternal Health Awareness Day. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to designate a day calling for action to raise public awareness about maternal health and promote maternal safety.
The proclamation for Maternal Health Awareness Day in New Jersey was signed by Governor Christie in 2017. It was spearheaded by The Tara Hansen Foundation – created after the death of a New Jersey woman who died from an unnoticed infection after childbirth – as well as Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The objective of the day is to increase maternal health awareness for all residents of the state including providers of women’s healthcare services, the general public, legislators, insurance company executives and other interested parties.
“RWJBarnabas Health’s participation in Maternal Health Awareness Day is one of the many ways in which our system is taking an active role in educating our communities about the importance of healthy pregnancies to ensure positive outcomes for both mothers and babies,” said John F. Bonamo, MD, MS, FACOG, FACPE, Executive Vice President, Chief Medical and Quality Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “On the clinical side, in 2015, we established the RWJBarnabas Health OB Collaborative to assist health care providers by instituting evidence-based protocols to address the rising concerns of maternal health. The collaborative brings together the top minds in obstetrics care across the RWJBH system and takes a multidisciplinary team approach by actively engaging physicians, nurses, and support service leadership.”
The RWJBarnabas Health’s OB Collaborative meets regularly to identify best practices, review and implement evidence-based protocols, address challenges, and evaluate and implement ways to improve maternal care. For example, to help address complications of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which is one of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, the OB Collaborative created a bundle that includes a standardized order set and care pathway to support physicians and residents in clinical decision making to improve maternal care. The bundles were created using guidelines and recommendations from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and are currently being implemented system wide.
“One major new initiative we are undertaking across the system this year is creating a protocol together with all of our emergency rooms,” said Dr. Bonamo. “This ensures that the right questions are asked of patients from the time they enter the emergency department and pregnant and postpartum patients are directed appropriately and swiftly from the beginning. This is a vital step to decreasing the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity.”
The work includes advocacy before lawmakers, community engagement through institutes and coalitions, and leading obstetrical care for all. As a result of the OB Collaborative, the majority of RWJBarnabas Health hospitals offering ob-gyn care have reduced their C-section rate, about half are now below the national episiotomy rate, and all hospitals are below the national early elective delivery benchmarks.
RWJBarnabas Health has also partnered with several outside organizations to improve maternal outcomes across the state, including: the NJ Department of Health Maternal Mortality Review Program, the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), the NJ Perinatal Quality Collaborative led by the NJ Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust and the State of NJ Maternal Mortality Case Review Team.RWJBarnabas Health is also actively participating in the ‘Stop! Look! Listen!’ maternal health and safety campaign developed by the Tara Hansen Foundation to help empower pregnant mothers and their loved ones in addressing maternal health and safety and encourages women and families to speak up if they feel something is wrong – and providers to take heed of those concerns.
“Our work through the RWJBarnabas Health OB Collaborative and our outside partnerships are centered on implementing the best practices to continually improve the quality of care for women and their babies,” said Dr. Bonamo. “RWJBarnabas Health remains committed to developing new programs and initiatives to proactively address issues of maternal health and mortality.”
In recognition of Maternal Health Awareness Day, facilities across the RWJBH system hosted various education events for health care providers and the community to help increase awareness of maternal health issues within the communities they serve.
ABOUT RWJBARNABAS HEALTH
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH New Brunswick, RWJUH Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH Hamilton, RWJUH Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital (Children’s Specialized Hospital) with its multiple outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations. RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns.
RWJBarnabas Health recently announced a partnership with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration will align RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. The alliance will result in a multi-specialty group that will be one of the largest medical groups in the country.
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