Phelps Hospital Introduces Maternal Outcomes Navigation Program

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Phelps Hospital’s new Maternal Outcomes (MOMs) Navigation program hopes to help improve pregnancy care for high-risk patients throughout, and immediately after, their pregnancy. Photo courtesy Northwell Health.

Phelps Hospital has launched Northwell Health’s Maternal Outcomes (MOMs) Navigation program, an initiative designed to improve maternal outcomes by providing resources, education and social support to high-risk patients throughout their pregnancy and post-partum period. Led by a multidisciplinary team of experts, the program aims to decrease preventable illness and death in medically complex patients, including those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and blood clots, as well as those experiencing socioeconomic risks and mental health issues.

The decision to introduce the program at Phelps Hospital follows successful implementation at three Northwell Health hospitals: Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Huntington Hospital and South Shore University Hospital. The program’s efficacy is detailed in a study published last year in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The study demonstrated that the navigation program led to a 20 percent reduction in rehospitalization for any reason within a month of discharge after delivery. The program also significantly decreased the incidence of rehospitalization by 56 percent due to severe maternal health problems.

Also of note was the decrease in rehospitalization observed among Black women, underscoring the program’s potential to address racial disparities in maternal care outcomes. This is especially significant as April’s commemoration of Black Maternal Health Week brings heightened awareness to concerning statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. The CDC cites multiple contributing factors, including variation in healthcare quality, underlying chronic conditions, structural racism and implicit bias.

“The findings from the Northwell Health study underscore the critical importance of comprehensive postpartum care navigation in improving maternal outcomes,” said Karen Murray, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Phelps Hospital. “By introducing the Northwell MOMs Navigation Program at Phelps, we are aligning with evidence-based practices and reaffirming our commitment to providing equitable, high-quality care to all mothers in our community.”

A key feature of the MOMs Navigation program is that it identifies participants based on their medical diagnoses, which are coded in their electronic medical charts. This is implemented to counter unconscious bias, which is one of the factors that may lead to poorer outcomes for Black and African American mothers. While physicians can still make referrals to the program, enrollment in the program is initiated based on the medical chart codes, independent of referrals. Other notable benefits of the program include a 24/7 RN on-call system and a dedicated nurse care manager for post-partum navigation, ensuring that patients have immediate access to nursing assistance at all times.

The program was funded by three individual donors, who collectively contributed $500,000. This contribution facilitated the launch of the program and will sustain its operation for three years.

“We support the MOMs program because we want to see improvements in the care of mothers and their babies here in Westchester consistent with our previous work in other countries,” said Loretta London and Roger London, MD, two of the donors. “We hope the program will identify, engage, and serve the members of the community that Phelps serves and help drive sustainable improvements in the care of prospective moms and their children.”

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