University Hospital, RWJ University and Ocean Medical honored for maternity care

Three were included on nationwide ‘best maternity hospitals’ list by Newsweek/Leapfrog

Three hospitals in New Jersey — University Hospital (Newark), Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (New Brunswick) and Ocean Medical Center (Brick) — have been named to a list of best maternity hospitals in the nation, according to Newsweek magazine.

The distinction recognizes hospitals that have excelled in providing quality care to mothers, newborns and their families, as measured in part by the 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. It is part of Newsweek’s Best Health Care series and powered by data from the Leapfrog Group.

The list recognized 217 facilities in 36 states. Pennsylvania had 11 locations cited. Oddly, New York did not have a single one.

University Hospital CEO Shereef Elnahal said being recognized during such a difficult year was a testament to the abilities of the staff.

“Throughout 2020, urban hospitals that serve majority-minority communities have faced serious challenges in so many areas,” he said. “At the same time, our maternity program has thrived and continued to serve expectant mothers throughout the public health emergency with high-quality care.

“Our community values the fact that University Hospital is a safe and welcoming space for childbirth, and a safe destination for the essential care expectant mothers need leading up to the birth of their child and postpartum.”

Approximately 1,600 babies are born each year at University Hospital, an average of more than four births per day. In addition to the number of births, the hospital hosts more than 24,000 prenatal patient visits per year and has a staff of 30 board-certified physicians from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and experienced labor and delivery registered nurses serving new mothers, babies and their families.

Elnahal said University Hospital is proud to rank among the lowest Cesarean-section rates of all hospitals in New Jersey. He said University has the most successful rates of Vaginal Birth after Cesarean, or VBAC, in addition to having one of lowest episiotomy rates in the state.

University Hospital also is the first and only hospital in Essex County to be designated as a Baby Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA, a global program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The program encourages mothers to nourish newborns with breast milk and promotes a rooming-in policy where babies can spend most of the time in moms’ hospital rooms to increase skin-to-skin contact, which is very important for the baby. This provides for ease of access to the baby for breastfeeding and promotes skin-to-skin contact.

University Hospital’s Regional Perinatal Center is well-known for handling some of the state’s most complicated pregnancies and medically fragile newborns. The center offers ancillary services, such as counseling for women with chronic health conditions, evaluation and prevention for moms at high risk for pre-term births and care for pregnant women with significant high-risk medical problems like hypertension, heart disease, immunodeficiency conditions, substance use disorder and diabetes.

Dr. Lisa Gittens-Wiliams, Director of Obstetrics at University Hospital and a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said teamwork leads to the best outcomes.

“The fact that we deliver healthy, beautiful babies with superb outcomes that exceed national benchmarks truly illustrates that our interdisciplinary teams of doctors and nurses are committed to providing the highest level of care with a focus on the individual needs of our moms and babies,” she said.