Jan 20, 2023 RWJBarnabas Health Observes 2023 Maternal Health Awareness Day

Health System Helps Raise Awareness of Underlying Causes of Maternal Mortality

Maternal Health Awareness DayWest Orange, NJ, January 19, 2023 – RWJBarnabas Health, the health system that delivers the most babies in New Jersey, together with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), is observing Maternal Health Awareness Day on January 23rd, raising awareness among both clinicians and patients on the two leading causes of maternal mortality.

The ACOG theme for the 2023 Maternal Health Awareness Day, “Know Why,” focuses on mental health conditions and cardiac and coronary conditions, which were recently identified by maternal mortality review committees and reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the top underlying causes of death during and after pregnancy.

This is the first time that mental health conditions were reported as a leading underlying cause of pregnancy-related deaths. RWJBarnabas Health offers the state’s first and only Centers for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, which are dedicated to helping women and families manage mental health issues during and after pregnancy. Additionally, the RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery (IFPR) recently was awarded one of two nearly $1 million federal maternal health grants to address substance use issues during pregnancy and the postpartum period, with the goal of reducing related maternal deaths. Currently, IFPR offers a Peer Recovery Program, providing in-person and virtual recovery support services to help new and expectant mothers.

To address the second major driver of maternal mortality, cardiac and coronary conditions, RWJBarnabas Health has created an awareness campaign to educate women regarding symptoms of cardiac-related issues they may experience during pregnancy or following childbirth. In conjunction with Maternal Health Awareness Day, the health system will host a series of professional educational events across its facilities throughout the week to continue to raise awareness about maternal health and safety, with a particular focus on the management of hypertension and cardiac disease.

Maternal Health Awareness Day was created in 2017 by the state of New Jersey to raise awareness and provide education to both health care providers and families about maternal health. Since then, a statewide patient safety initiative led by the New Jersey Hospital Association found that collaborative efforts by the state’s birthing hospitals are estimated to have averted more than 10,000 C-sections over five years.

“Because RWJBarnabas Health delivers more babies than any other health system in New Jersey, we are uniquely positioned to drive meaningful change, and we are proud to engage with a range of community partners to provide the most comprehensive care for women across the state,” said Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RN, Vice President of Women’s Services at RWJBarnabas Health and Co-Chair of the N.J. Perinatal Quality Collaborative, a multi-year CDC-funded initiative. “We are committed to partnering with and empowering women and families with knowledge and support throughout their birthing journeys—from the moment they consider starting a family to ongoing postpartum care. Comprehensive, wraparound care results in better long-term health outcomes for both mothers and babies and helps us address health disparities.”

Over the past year, RWJBarnabas Health has received numerous national accolades for its maternal health services and outcomes. Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center were among three New Jersey hospitals to launch the TeamBirth NJ initiative, an evidence-based, national model for better provider and patient communication, which is designed to enhance birthing experiences and improve outcomes for women giving birth and their babies. Additionally, RWJBarnabas Health received 26 awards from Healthgrades, the highest number of awards in the state for excellence in comprehensive women’s care, and four RWJBarnabas Health birthing centers were named to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 Best Hospitals for Maternity Care. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers make informed decisions about their health, also named three of the centers to its 2022 list of the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care, among just 259 hospitals nationally to receive the award.

About RWJBarnabas Health

RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering eight 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 Somerset in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital with a network of outpatient pediatric rehabilitation 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, affiliated medical groups, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is among New Jersey’s largest private employers – with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians– and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health launched an affiliation with Rutgers University to create 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 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. 

Contact: Carrie Cristello