Apr 12, 2022 RWJBarnabas Health Marks Black Maternal Health Week and National Minority Health Month with Efforts to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes

RWJBarnabas Health to Host Series of Events; System Social Media Channels to Support Black Maternal Health Week – April 11-17

West Orange, NJ, April 8, 2022 – RWJBarnabas Health, the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, is committed to the health and well-being of women throughout pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. As part of that commitment and its mission to address health disparities, the system is again recognizing Black Maternal Health Week (#BMHW22, April 11-17, 2022) in its 5th annual campaign to raise awareness for ensuring safe, equitable care for Black mothers and amplify community-driven policy research and care solutions. The week is key to April’s National Minority Health Month, an initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of ethnic minority and indigenous communities.

“The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed nations, a crisis that puts Black women at exceeding lethal risk during and post pregnancy. In New Jersey, Black women are seven times more likely to die from a pregnancy-associated complication than their white peers. This is unacceptable, which is why RWJBarnabas Health is committed to help bring about change, proudly joining the voices amplifying the call for reproductive justice and birth equity,” said Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, Vice President of Women’s Services, RWJBarnabas Health, and a leader in maternal health.

RWJBarnabas Health physicians and health care professionals deliver almost a quarter of all hospital births in the state. As such, the system is uniquely positioned to create transformative change through the work of the RWJBarnabas Health OB Collaborative. The OB Collaborative is an interdisciplinary leadership team committed to ending preventable maternal morbidity, mortality and promoting equity in maternity care. Via various initiatives and programs, the team aims to increase access to quality, equitable care, address social determinants of health, and empower women through shared decision-making.

As part of RWJBarnabas Health’s support for Black Maternal Health Week 2022 (#BMHW22), facilities throughout the system have planned events designed to bring awareness to this national crisis and available resources. The system will also be reaching out to its social media communities using #BMHW22.

Building on its ongoing effort to effect meaningful change, the system has made available a variety of resources to improve Black maternal and infant health outcomes across its facilities. Among this include a maternal mental health initiative that supports women during the reproductive cycle, and family planning services that help women manage and achieve their reproductive goals. Additional plans and pilot programs are underway to further broaden services to address the crucial postpartum period when women undergo major physiological changes that put them at risk, as well as preterm birth prevention. “A comprehensive approach to providing high-quality care to all patients must acknowledge women’s lived experiences and involve them as experts in their care” added Spernal, “Health equity can only be accomplished by taking definitive action to eliminate racial bias and its impact while working to provide better access to care.”

“Improving maternal health outcomes – particularly among Black women – must be a priority, which is why it is so important for us to raise awareness of Black Maternal Health Week and also leverage it as a time to address this epidemic that Black mothers face”, said Meika Tylese Neblett, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Academic Officer, Medical Director Southern Region, Ending Racism: Equity in Clinical Care Goal Lead, Community Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. “To combat Black maternal health inequity and save lives, we must work to build trust with patients and create an environment that is safe and welcoming.”


RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, 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, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth; three acute care children's hospitals; Children’s Specialized Hospital, including a network of outpatient centers; a behavioral health center and the state’s largest behavioral health network; two trauma centers; a satellite emergency department; ambulatory care centers; geriatric centers; comprehensive home care and hospice programs; fitness and wellness centers; retail pharmacy services; an affiliated medical group; multi-site imaging centers; and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 37,000 employees and 9,000 physicians – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers University, is New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research, and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state's only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.