News & Announcements

THT, Community Partners Focus on Saving Mothers’ Lives

Trenton, NJ — Trenton Health Team is proud to be among organizations recently selected to join the Safer Childbirth Cities initiative founded by Merck for Mothers to help cities become safer, more equitable places to give birth.

New Jersey’s maternal mortality ranks among the worst nationwide, according to the state Department of Health, at roughly 38 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births — nearly double the national average.

An African American mother in New Jersey is seven times more likely to die than a white mother due to pregnancy complications, state records show; and an African American baby is three times more likely to die than a white baby in the first year of life — the widest racial disparity in the nation.

“The current situation is intolerable. We are grateful for new resources to combat the inequity of maternal mortality in a meaningful way,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “With support from Merck and our community partners, we are determined to save the lives of mothers and babies in our community.”

Merck today announced an expansion of its Safer Childbirth Cities initiative to communities that have a high burden of maternal mortality and morbidity to help improve maternal health outcomes and reduce racial inequities in care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States is the only high-income country where maternal mortality is on the rise.

The newly selected projects will focus on addressing maternal health needs in their respective city, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnant women and new mothers and will catalyze innovative approaches to ensure long-term change and support before, during and after childbirth. Safer Childbirth Cities was launched in 2018 by Merck for Mothers, Merck’s $500 million global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life..

As a member of the 2021 cohort of the Safer Childbirth Cities program, THT will partner with Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Children’s Futures, Capital Health, and Central Jersey Family Health Consortium to improve outcomes for pregnant women, new mothers and infants in our community.

Over the next three years, support from Safer Childbirth Cities, as well as other funders such as the Burke Foundation, will enable expansion of doula programs providing women, especially those challenged by language barriers, racial inequity, low incomes or lack of health insurance, with culturally and linguistically appropriate support services before, during and after pregnancy. Doulas act as advocates, helping with a range of needs, from accompanying women to prenatal care appointments, to support during delivery and encouraging bonding between mothers and babies.

A program manager will be hired by Children’s Home Society of New Jersey to work on site at the Capital Health OB/GYN Trenton clinic — Trenton’s only clinic offering prenatal care, and enhance and coordinate additional services that help patients and staff with non-clinical needs and referrals.

In addition, THT and the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium will develop data analysis to expand knowledge of maternal health risk factors, disparities, and warning signs of mortality and morbidity, and help identify solutions. THT already operates the Trenton Health Information Exchange (HIE), a database that allows doctors and other providers to share medical information to coordinate healthcare, inform clinical decisions, and improve patient care.

“THT has been working with community partners to improve health and well-being across our city,” Paulson said. “This is an opportunity to focus sustained resources and effort on finally overcoming a longstanding injustice.”