NJ to start campaign to help new mothers survive giving birth

David Madden
January 27, 2019 - 4:00 am
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy leads a meeting at in Camden about Nurture NJ.

David Madden/KYW Newsradio

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The New Jersey Assembly will consider a 14-bill package passed in a pair of committees that addresses maternal death rates in the state, particularly among African-American women. At the same time, the state is kicking off an informational campaign targeting new mothers. 

First lady Tammy Murphy led a meeting at Cooper Hospital in Camden that brought together health care professionals from across the state with activists who, like Murphy, are worried about recent statistics that show New Jersey as the 45th worst state in the nation for maternal mortality.

Murphy wants to put an end to what she calls systemic racism within New Jersey’s health care system that creates a shocking disparity.

"Within the first year of giving birth, black women in New Jersey are more than five times likely to die than their white counterparts," she said. "Black babies here in New Jersey are three times as likely to die as white babies."

That comes even though the state's infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the nation. 

For his part, state Health Commissioner Dr. Shareef Elnahal has his own terminology.

"There's a concept called implicit bias, where even clinicians of color tend not to necessarily treat patients of color in the same way," Dr. Elnahal added. "This has been proven in study after study."

Enter Nurture NJ — a program to raise awareness, change attitudes within the medical community, and let pregnant women know of programs already available to them. 

Among the early plans: a Family Festival in Camden in early March that’ll offer access to state agencies that can offer a number of services.