Apr 10, 2024 RWJBarnabas Health Recognizes Black Maternal Health Week 2024

From April 11 – 17, System Will Host Educational Events Raising Awareness for Black Maternal Health

Black maternal

West Orange, NJ, April 10, 2024 – RWJBarnabas Health, the largest, most comprehensive academic health system in New Jersey, is committed to the health and well-being of women throughout pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period. As part of this commitment, the System, along with its nine maternity hospitals is once again joining with the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) to recognize Black Maternal Health Week (#BMHW24), April 11-17, to help ensure that Black mothers have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy

“Across the U.S. and in New Jersey, maternal morbidity and mortality continue to rise, but for Black women, the statistics are particularly alarming,” said Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, CBC, Senior Vice President, Women’s Health, RWJBarnabas Health, and a state and national leader in maternal health. “Black women are significantly more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than their white peers, which is unacceptable. Across RWJBarnabas Health, we are committed to bringing about change, fostering a community of support for Black mothers, and amplifying the call for birth equity.”

Since RWJBarnabas Health physicians and health care professionals deliver more than 25,000 infants annually, representing a quarter of all hospital births in the state, the system embraces the opportunity and responsibility to prioritize maternal health equity. Through focused clinical training and community partnerships – along with a commitment to antiracism and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) – RWJBarnabas Health has developed a road map to ensure safe, equitable care for Black mothers that is driven by the RWJBarnabas Health Obstetrics Collaborative. For almost ten years and through a variety of programs and initiatives, this pioneering interdisciplinary team of experts is increasing access to high-quality, equitable care, addressing social determinants of health and ensuring that women are empowered before, during and after pregnancy through shared decision-making with physicians and all clinical team members.

“It is critical to raise awareness for Black maternal health, not just during Black Maternal Health Week, but all year long; to improve outcomes, we must gain the trust of Black women by listening to them and meeting their needs,” said Glenmarie Matthews, MD, MBA, MS, Medical Director, Complex Family Planning at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.“Additionally, we know that implicit bias plays a role in maternal health outcomes, but as clinicians, we can apply strategies to address this. The more we evaluate our personal biases and how they impact patient care, the more effectively we can reduce them.”

As part of RWJBarnabas Health’s support for Black Maternal Health Week 2024, a host of educational events and programs are planned at facilities across the system for staff and clinical teams. Events open to the public include:

  • Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC) will host a virtual Black Maternal Health Week Panel Conversation on Thursday, April 18 from 1- 2 p.m. presented by the Perinatal Services Department and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The panel will be moderated by Sheryl Ann Syby, MSN, RN, CPN, Assistant Vice President of Perinatal Services, CBMC, and panelists will include clinical leadership from OB/GYN, Labor & Delivery and High Risk Antepartum. Register at: www.rwjbh.org/CBMCevents

    Event Flyer

  • Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) will present a Community Baby Shower and Resource Fair for Hudson County’s Black Mothers at the hospital on Wednesday, April 17 from 2 – 5 p.m. Attendees can connect with certified doulas and local agencies offering resources to support healthy pregnancies. Meet health professionals from JCMC’s Women’s Health and Wellness Services who will offer tours of the hospital’s state-of-the-art mother-baby unit.

Event Flyer

  • Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI) will offer several virtual programs that are open to the public.
    • Join all on Zoom:
      • What a Difference a Doula Makes on Thursday, April 11 at 10:00 a.m. presented by Juwanna Montgomery, South Ward Promise Neighborhood
      • Maternal Health through Paternal Lenses, Friday, April 12 at 12 noon, presented by Troy Bowers, Tree of Life Center for Care
      • Reproductive Justice for All: No Woman Left Behind on Wednesday, April 17 at 1:00 p.m. presented by Camille D. Walker, MD, and Norma B. Milanes Roberts, MD

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  • Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, together with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, will present an in-person and virtual screening of an educational film, “Toxic - A Black Woman’s Story”, followed by a panel discussion on Tuesday, April 16 from noon – 1 p.m. in the RWJUH Courtyard. To register, visit: https://rutgers.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cvwbekNCH1eLeFE?Q_CHL=qr

Event Flyer

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 41,000 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: Elizabeth.Brennan@RWJBH.org