Nurture NJ, First Lady Tammy Murphy’s statewide effort to improve maternal and infant health, is making progress in its efforts to reach communities of color with services that address black infant mortality.
As part of this initiative, the New Jersey Department of Health increased outreach, support and services to women of color to improve health and birth outcomes.
In a press release, the health department said that as part of its $4.7 million investment in the Healthy Women, Healthy Families program, the department provided funding for partners to hire 77 outreach workers — 40 doulas, eight community health workers and 29 Community Health Worker supervisors — to improve the health of black women.
According to the department, more than 11,000 women have been screened since July 2018 and 8,500 were connected to programs like Home Visiting and Healthy Start. Most of these women were pregnant and nearly 40 percent reside in communities with high rates of black infant mortality.
Sixty-three women are participating in the doula pilots. To date, 19 have delivered their child with the support of a doula.
In addition, 600 more women have been provided long-term, reversible contraception (LARC) thanks to Gov. Phil Murphy’s restoration of family planning funds.
DOH is also announcing that seven partners have agreed to administer 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone (17P) through funding that the Department has secured from the CDC, as part of the Preventative Health Services Block Grant. 17P is proven to prevent preterm births in certain women. To ensure maternal care providers have an understanding of how this intervention can be used to improve birth outcomes, the department, with perinatologists and obstetric experts, will offer Grand Rounds at hospitals and medical societies to areas of the state with high infant mortality rates.
“Every mother deserves an equal chance at having a healthy child,” said Murphy in a statement. “Through the Nurture NJ initiative, the administration is making strides in bringing services to communities that need greater access to care, in order to reduce shameful disparities that have persisted in our state for too long. Our goal is to make New Jersey the safest place to give birth in the country.”
Murphy said she has made it her top priority to reduce infant mortality. She has traversed the state over the past year meeting with stakeholders to better understand the depth of the crisis, and raise awareness that New Jersey’s black infants are three times more likely than white infants to die before their first birthday.
Our goal is to make New Jersey the safest place to give birth in the country.
“Community Health Workers and Doulas provide support and connections to resources that can greatly improve a women’s health and likelihood she will have an optimal birth,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “Thanks to the First Lady’s leadership, underserved minority women are receiving services in their own backyards.”
Eight community-based grantees are implementing the Healthy Women, Health Families and Doula Pilots.
“This innovative work by our grantees is being generously supported by the Nicholson Foundation, the Burke Foundation and The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation,” added Dr. Elnahal. “We thank them for sharing our commitment to reduce these longstanding health inequities.”