Jan. 23, 2019: N.J. Hospitals Join Statewide Conversation on Improving Maternal Health

CAMDEN – New Jersey’s hospital community joined with First Lady Tammy Murphy, Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal and other New Jersey health leaders today in a commitment to improving maternal health and reducing disparities in outcomes for new mothers.

Cathy Bennett, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, joined with state officials, hospital CEOs and other healthcare groups in a meeting today to discuss maternal health and disparities in maternal health outcomes. The meeting was hosted by Cooper Health System.

The Institute for Quality and Patient Safety at NJHA is a partner with the state Department of Health in the Perinatal Quality Collaborative, one of just 13 such efforts in the nation funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address this issue. All 49 of New Jersey’s hospitals with labor and delivery services are participating in this effort.

“We applaud First Lady Tammy Murphy and Commissioner Elnahal for shining a spotlight on this issue,” said Bennett. “The First Lady is a true champion for this cause, and we need a strong champion to ensure that all mothers and babies have every opportunity for good health. We know it demands a broad and coordinated effort by public health officials, hospitals, primary care sites and other healthcare stakeholders. We also need to educate and empower patients and their family members so that they can be an active part of their healthcare and that their worries and concerns are recognized and acted upon.”

Bennett discussed the complexities of maternal mortality (death rates) and maternal morbidity (encompassing other illness and complications related to maternal health) and outlined the issue in terms of “what we know, what we don’t know and where we need to go. 

What We Know

  • Maternal mortality is a nationwide concern. Every day, two women on average die in the United States following childbirth, and an additional 1,000 are affected every week by serious complications during delivery.
  • We know that maternal health mortality and morbidity must be viewed together to improve outcomes.
  • We know that underlying chronic conditions among expectant mothers, such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes and substance abuse, have a significant impact on maternal morbidity and mortality.

What We Don’t Know

  • While there are several different reports on maternal mortality and morbidity, there is no standard data or measurement to fully understand the scope of this issue and its complex contributing factors. Uniform definitions and data sources are needed to provide meaningful measurement to drive quality improvement.
  • We also need much better understanding of the role of prenatal and antenatal care in ensuring that New Jersey becomes the safest place to deliver a baby.

What We’re Doing

  • The New Jersey Perinatal Quality Collaborative (www.njha.com/njpqc) is working with the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) and using the same bundle of best practices that has been implemented successfully in California. The AIM bundle, which focuses on obstetric hemorrhage and hypertension, is considered the industry standard in improving maternal health outcomes.
  • New Jersey’s birthing hospitals also are implementing policies to reduce early elective deliveries and unnecessary C-sections. C-sections increase the likelihood of complications in new mothers, including hemorrhages and infections.

Where We Want to Be

  • Our vision is a partnership of all stakeholders – state health officials, hospitals, primary care providers, health insurance companies, New Jersey’s maternal health consortia, consumer advocates and patients and their families – working to identify and address the array of issues impacting the health of mothers and babies in New Jersey.
  • Our vision also includes seamless and integrated access to the healthcare services expectant mothers need – prenatal care, labor and delivery services and post-natal follow-up. We also need to focus collectively on the underlying chronic conditions that all too often put expectant mothers, and their babies, at greater risk.
  • All mothers must have access to these essential health services, regardless of factors including race, residence, language, insurance status and socioeconomic status.