Burke Foundation and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Launch the Maternal Infant Health Hub Advisory Board

Monday, December 5, 2022

Burke Foundation and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Launch the Maternal Infant Health Hub Advisory Board

PRINCETON— (December 5, 2022) — The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, in partnership with the Burke Foundation, is launching the first New Jersey-based Maternal Infant Health (MIH) Hub, an innovative policy and learning collaborative to help improve maternal/infant health and reduce racial/ethnic disparities by advancing midwifery practice in New Jersey. The Hub will be a learning space for midwives, midwifery students, and others for sharing maternal health policy resources.

To enable midwives to play a larger role in New Jersey births, the two organizations last June released Delivering Better Care: Midwifery Practice in New Jersey, an in-depth review of midwifery practice in the state. The MIH Hub will advance the report’s work to strengthen midwifery practice and promote birth equity and justice in New Jersey.

For more information about the MIH Hub, please visit here.

Midwives are licensed and credentialed primary health care providers who specialize in supporting low-risk pregnant women during the perinatal period, labor, and delivery. They provide the full range of primary care for women. The midwifery model of care is associated with better maternal and infant health outcomes — such as increased rates of breastfeeding, decreased maternal mortality and morbidity rates, and fewer high-risk medical interventions. Yet, despite centuries of midwifery practice – especially in communities of color – fewer than 10 percent of New Jersey births in 2019 were attended by midwives.

New Jersey ranks 47th in the United States for maternal health — with racial disparities so severe that a Black woman in the state is seven times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than a white woman. Many experts believe greater access to midwifery care would help close that intolerable racial gap.

A 12-person MIH Hub Advisory Board will guide activities of the MIH Hub. The members are:

Arielle Elias, CNM: Midwife, Ocean Health Initiatives                        

Emre Kayaalp, MD, PhD, FACOG: Chair of OB/GYN at Overlook Medical Center       

Julie Blumenfeld, DNP, CNM: Midwife and Program Director of Rutgers University Midwifery Program

Karen McEvoy Shields, CNM, MSN, FACNM: Administrative and Clinical Director at Virtua Midwifery Birth and Wellness Center

Michelle P. Gabriel-Caldwell: Doula and Childbirth Educator, The Birth Center of New Jersey and CEO, Baby, Please Birth Services Agency

Nicole Lamborne, MD: VP, Clinical Operations, Women’s and Children’s Services at Virtua Health

Raquel Reyes, DNP, WHNP-BC, CNM, FN-CSA: Midwife at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center 

Simone Edwards, DrPH, MPH: Director, Special Projects at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield

Toshira Maldonado, M.Ed.: Founder of Most Beautiful W.O.M.B. Inc., NJ Birth Justice Institute Advocate, Maternal Wellness Coach, and Full Spectrum Doula

Victoria Moseley, BSN, RN, CNM Student: RN Care Coordinator at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield

Vicki Hedley, CPM, CM, MA: Midwife at Seventh Moon Home Birth Midwifery Practice

Brenda Francis, LM, CPM: Midwife at NU Life Midwifery Practice

“Access to midwives and the midwifery model of care, and integration of midwives into our health care systems, has been identified as a key determinant in achieving optimal maternal and infant outcomes,” said Linda Sloan Locke, CNM, MPH, LSW, FACNM, who is involved in the newly launched MIH Hub, and has practiced midwifery and championed for the profession for decades. “The Maternal Infant Health Hub will provide opportunities for collaborative efforts to strengthen and diversify the New Jersey midwifery workforce and promote birth equity and justice in our state.”

“The Burke Foundation is committed to strengthening the midwifery profession in New Jersey as a crucial lever for addressing the state’s maternal mortality crisis,” said Burke Foundation Executive Director Atiya Weiss. “Midwives can make the birthing experience safer and more cost effective. We are honored to partner with the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute to launch the Maternal Infant Health Hub and expand midwifery-assisted births in New Jersey.”

On December 7, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and the Burke Foundation hosted the inaugural meeting of the Hub Board – a group of 12 midwifery champions from across the state who will set priorities and goals for the Maternal Infant Health Hub. Starting in 2023, these goals will be incorporated into the Maternal Infant Health Midwifery Collaborative which will advance strategies to create a robust midwifery sector in New Jersey.



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