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Elmhurst Hospital opens new facility to help reduce maternal mortality during childbirth

Elmhurst Hospital reduce maternal mortality
Members of Elmhurst Hospital and elected officials cut the ribbon on the facility’s new mother-baby simulation center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Several Queens elected officials helped cut the ribbon Tuesday on Elmhurst Hospital’s new mother-baby simulation center, which will help reduce maternal deaths and life-threatening conditions in patients during childbirth.

Elmhurst Hospital is one of six city public hospitals to be outfitted with its own OB simulation lab to help make training more accessible for OB teams throughout the system, building on the city’s program to reduce maternal deaths and life-threatening complications from childbirth among women of color.

“Having an on-site OB sim lab at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst is critical for so many of our patients, who often come from underserved communities and have high-risk pregnancies,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO Helen Arteaga Landaverde, MPH. “Simulation training helps ensure that our doctors, nurses and other team members caring for our pregnant patients have the expertise they need to handle complex cases should they arise. Our staff is very excited to expand Elmhurt’s mission of eliminating health disparities and ensuring good outcomes for new moms and their babies.”

Elmhurst Hospital reduce maternal mortality
Helen Arteaga, CEO of Elmhurst Hospital, speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hospital’s mother-baby simulation center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The new lab, which was built at a cost of roughly $250,000, consists of two rooms where OB teams train with a specifically designed, full-body mannequin of color, along with a mannequin infant, that is used in simulations that identify life-threatening conditions during labor and childbirth.

“Through simulation training our physicians and nurses can learn to optimize care for these patients and develop and apply skills that result in successful deliveries, leading to better care for women of color and others who have high-risk pregnancies,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Director of OB/GYN Services Dr. Frederick Friedman. “The diversity of our patient population is unparalleled. While we are practicing, enhancing and reinforcing our technical skills, we simultaneously are improving our communicative skills.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined several local leaders to help open the new facility.

“It’s fantastic that we now have a state-of-the-art mother-baby simulation center right here in Elmhurst,” Richards said. “This center will train health care professionals on the best practices for delivering healthy newborns and for caring for delivering mothers. The result will be fewer cases of maternal and infant mortality and better outcomes for all of the mothers and newborns cared for at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst.”

Elmhurst Hospital reduce maternal mortality
Members of Elmhurst Hospital and elected officials partake in a baby delivery simulation at the hospital’s new mother-baby simulation center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The new sim lab replicates OB emergencies including, but not limited to maternal hemorrhage, hypertensive emergencies, cord prolapse and neonatal resuscitation among others.

“Every maternal and infant death is a tragedy, and unfortunately these deaths are especially prevalent in low-income communities of color,” Councilman Shekar Krishnan said. “That’s why I’m proud to join Elmhurst Hospital in unveiling this new mother-baby simulator, which will train caregivers to handle the most complex cases.”

Dr. Daniel Lugassy, the medical director of the simulation center, explained that Black maternal mortality in the U.S. is three times higher than white women, but in New York City a few years ago it was 12 times higher.

“We are doing a bit better but Black women are still five to eight times more likely to die than their white counterparts in pregnancy or postpartum,” Lugassy said. “When we say racism is a public health crisis, we mean it. It’s a pandemic. It’s an epidemic. It’s a scourge in our community, and we as healthcare providers need to take responsibility for that, especially at this moment when reproductive rights are significantly under attack.”

Elmhurst Hospital reduce maternal mortality
Members of Elmhurst Hospital and elected officials partake in a baby delivery simulation at the hospital’s new mother-baby simulation center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas said the new facility is another example of the Elmhurst Hospital family “showing up” for the community.

“This is such a critical support for our community,” she said. “For the people who are giving birth and for all the providers who are providing the immense quality of care that we get here at Elmhurst Hospital.”

Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.

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