SUMMIT, NJ – The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey recently demonstrated its commitment to families throughout Union County and the surrounding region, granting a $1 million investment in a project to modernize and enhance Overlook Medical Center’s Frank & Mimi Walsh Maternity Center.
The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, which works to reduce disparities in the delivery of healthcare and improve access to quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in the greater Newark, NJ area and the Jewish community of Greater MetroWest NJ, selected the maternity project at Overlook for its focus on addressing broad maternal health issues as well as ending disparities in care for underserved populations.
“The modernization of the Frank & Mimi Walsh Maternity Center strongly aligns with The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey’s long-standing work to improve the quality of maternal healthcare in our region,” said Michael Schmidt, executive director and CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. “Our belief is that every family should receive high-quality, compassionate care when delivering a child, and this project will enable Overlook to deliver that level of care for generations to come.”
The project, which will reconfigure the maternity department, tripling the number of private rooms, enhancing the flow of patient-centered care and establishing new resources for families, is part of a multi-phase plan to expand and upgrade Overlook Medical Center. That plan is supported by Overlook Foundation’s ambitious capital campaign, “OverLook Ahead”. Construction for this project began this year and is anticipated to take about two years to complete.
“OverLook Ahead offers a chance for those from our community to contribute to making Overlook the place where patients and families can find the best care for generations to come,” said Clelia Biamonti, executive director of the Overlook Foundation. “The maternity center is an excellent example of how we are building to address the current and future needs of our communities.”
For Emre Kayaalp, MD, PhD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, and Stacy Anne Mehciz, MPA, BSN, RN, director of nursing for women and children’s health services, who both joined Overlook this year to lead the maternity center, the reconfiguration of the center provides the opportunity to more fully address the changing maternity needs of families who are turning to Overlook.
“Overlook has increasingly become the destination for care for new and growing families. This requires not only that we grow and modernize, but also that we tailor our services to more efficiently deliver maternity care for these families and their babies,” said Dr. Kayaalp.
While births are trending down nationally, Overlook has seen an uptick in deliveries over the past two years. In fact, during the initial peak of the pandemic, Overlook saw an influx of patients from outside its usual area, including from New York City.
Overlook delivered 2,325 babies in 2020 and 2,560 babies in 2021. Overlook is on track to have 2,625 births in 2022.
“As our volume of patients has increased, so too has the number of families of diverse backgrounds, and underserved populations,” said Mehciz. “With the reconfiguration of our physical space and the delivery of care, we can make a real difference in helping these families access high quality care, and ultimately, better outcomes from the start of their babies’ lives.”
Overlook is uniquely located near some of the most diverse and historically underserved communities in New Jersey. In 2021, more than half of Overlook’s maternity patients identified as a race/ethnicity other than white and many face disparities in health care.
The project parallels state-wide efforts to improve maternal and infant health among New Jersey women and babies as well as address racial health disparities that are at the heart of a public health crisis in the state. According to the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, New Jersey has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the United States, and black women in NJ are seven times more likely to die from pregnancy-associated causes than white women.
The maternity project will build a safe, high-quality and equitable continuum of care for all pregnant and postpartum mothers, particularly Overlook’s growing population of high-risk patients. This includes:
· Reconfiguring the maternity center’s floorplan to create a contiguous flow between the labor and delivery and postpartum units, and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
· Renovation of all labor and delivery rooms
· Creating 37 fully private postpartum rooms
· Creating a new four-bay triage and assessment area
· Creating a dual high-risk antepartum and postpartum area with four private rooms and critical diagnostic tools
The project also includes initiatives beyond physical construction, such as:
· Optimizing prenatal and postpartum care, with a targeted approach to reduce risk for vulnerable populations
· Continuing to offer virtual postpartum visits, implemented during the initial wave of COVID-19
· Optimizing the operations of Overlook’s HealthStart Clinic (a medical service for vulnerable women and their children)
· Leveraging the New Jersey Perinatal Quality Collaborative’s Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM)
To learn more about the OverLook Ahead campaign, visit: www.overlookfoundation.org.
To learn more about The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, visit www.hfnj.org.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 18,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 12 counties and 5.5 million people. The not-for-profit system offers more than 400 sites of care, including its seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ and through its partnership with CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, NJ.
Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.
Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 23 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.
Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across five health systems in the region.
Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.