Fifteen hospitals in New Jersey are among the best in the nation for maternity services, according to a new analysis by U.S. News & World Report.NJ Advance Media file photo
Fifteen hospitals in New Jersey are among the best in the nation for maternity services, according to a new analysis by U.S. News & World Report.
The list, which does not rank the hospitals, is the publication’s first such look at maternity care. To select the highest-performing hospitals in the specialty, U.S. News & World Report examined data provided by facilities on non-high-risk pregnancies. Its Best Hospitals for Maternity evaluation focused on five factors: C-section rates, newborn complications, the rate of breast-feeding, scheduled early deliveries and the option for vaginal birth following previous cesareans.
U.S. News also took into consideration amenities such as child birthing classes and private rooms.
More than 550 of the 2,700 hospitals in the nation that offer maternity services submitted 2019 data for the evaluation, said U.S. News & World Report, which has published closely watched ratings on health services for more than 30 years. In New Jersey, 29 hospitals participated.
Ben Harder, the managing editor and chief of health analysis at U.S. News & World Report, says he hopes the participation rate will increase for the sake of transparency.
“By displaying this data publicly, we’d like to empower families to make informed decisions,” Harder told NJ Advance Media, “and to encourage transparency at the same time.
“It boils down to [the fact that] maternity care is something that is shoppable — a patient can decide where she goes to deliver a baby because she has time to prepare, and there is more than one hospital to choose from. Maternity care is the not same at every hospital.”
Maternal health has long been a concern in the U.S., particularly in New Jersey, which has among the nation’s highest maternal mortality rates.
The situation is most dire for Black women, who are seven times more likely than white women to die from complications stemming from pregnancy and childbirth.
U.S. News & World Report did not break down its analysis according to race and ethnicity, Harder said, but expects to do so in future examinations of the best hospitals for maternity care.
New Jersey’s cesarean rate — 33.3% of hospital births in 2019 — is 7% higher than the national rate, according to the state Health Department.
A March of Dimes report card released last month on maternal and infant health showed nearly one out of 10 children in New Jersey was born prematurely last year, putting them at risk for developmental delays, health problems and death. Of this group, 13.4% were Black, 12.2% were Native American, 9.8% were Latino, 8.7% were Asian and 8.3% were white.
The report gave New Jersey a “C+” for its efforts, a couple of notches above the nation’s “C-” grade, the report said.
“The United States is among the most dangerous developed nations to give birth,” said Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO for the March of Dimes, at a news conference announcing the report card results. “We have a lot of work to do.”
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy has made maternal and infant health, particularly in underserved communities, one of her key issues. After Gov. Phil Murphy took office in 2017, the first lady launched several initiatives, including the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan.
The governor and the state Legislature have passed several measures in recent years to improve maternal and infant health, including a law prohibiting the state’s Medicaid program from paying for cesarean sections that are not proven to be crucial or safe.
Another law requires Medicaid to cover doulas, typically non-medical people who are trained or certified to be coaches during labor and childbirth. And in the summer, Murphy signed a bill establishing a universal home visitation program. A registered nurse checks in with parents within the first two weeks of a baby’s birth, and a few more free visits are available in the first three months.
Here are the 15 N.J. hospitals that made the list, in alphabetical order:
Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell, Pennington
Chilton Medical Center, Pompton Plains
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood
Hackensack Meridian Health Pascack Valley Medical Center, Westwood
Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center, Perth Amboy
Inspira Medical Center, Elmer
Jefferson Health, locations in Stratford, Cherry Hill and Washington Township
Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune City
Morristown Medical Center, Morristown
Newton Medical Center, Newton
Ocean University Medical Center, Brick
Overlook Medical Center, Summit
Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank
Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Camden
Virtua Voorhees Hospital, Voorhees
NJ Advance Media staff writer Susan K. Livio contributed to this report.
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