Brooklyn BP commits $11 million for new state-of-the-art maternity center at Woodhull Hospital • Brooklyn – Brooklyn Paper | Candle Made Easy

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso has provided $11 million in capital for a new state-of-the-art birthing center at NYC Health+Hospitals/Woodhull Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“Regardless of intent or passion, a person cannot enact lasting solutions without the support of a small army that is just as passionate and has the expertise to push through these impactful changes,” Reynoso said when the funding was announced on July 19 “I have found a true partner in my fight against maternal mortality injustice in our city’s public health system.”

The $11 million in equity funding will be used to build a brand new maternity center at Woodhull Hospital, as well as refurbishments of existing maternity facilities. Courtesy Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

The Beep is investing its entire $45 million capital budget into maternal health services at three different Brooklyn public hospitals, and Woodhull is just the first to receive the funds. Maternal mortality has long been an issue for Reynoso, who first promoted legislation to improve maternal health while on the New York City Council and assembled a maternal health task force four months into his tenure as borough president.

Black people giving birth in New York City are significantly more likely to die or have serious health problems from complications of pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. Quality health care is often inaccessible to families, and many people report being ignored or discriminated against by hospitals and medical staff.

Brooklyn had the second-highest birth rate in the five boroughs in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, with 89.7 pregnancies per 1,000 women of childbearing age, and had the highest number of deaths — 15 — attributed to pregnancy-related childbirth , or postpartum complications. East New York and Brownsville had some of the highest infant mortality rates of any New York City borough, and Brooklyn as a whole had a 6.7% infant mortality rate — equivalent to 1,300 deaths.

Brooklyn bp Antonio Reynoso at Woodhull Hospital
Reducing maternal mortality has been a top priority for Reynoso since his time on the city council. The Beep said it will also invest in community-based health centers.Courtesy Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

Two years ago, 26-year-old Sha-Asia Semple died in childbirth in Woodhull, although her baby survived an emergency C-section. Last spring, THE CITY reported that against the anesthesiologist treating Semple, Dr. Dmitry Anatolevich Shelchkov, was arrested for not following recommended protocols.

In addition to funding the new maternity center, the $11 million will fund the renovation of six existing labor and delivery rooms, as well as modernization of triage rooms and the post-anaesthesia care unit. The new birth center will include larger operating rooms for caesarean births and an innovative obstetrics simulation laboratory.

“[Reynoso] has often spoken not only about how he envisions the facilities, but also the benefits of the shared decision-making model of integrative midwifery and physician care, which he hopes will continue to be used in Woodhull and elsewhere,” said Helena Grant , Director of Midwifery in Woodhull. “We share his vision for the Woodhull community and we know his contribution will give birthers greater and more positive responsibility for their health, their pregnancy and outcomes.”

People with large checks at Woodhull Hospital
Woodhull, the county’s first ‘baby-friendly’ hospital, has a low caesarean rate and will soon house a state-of-the-art birthing centre. Courtesy Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

More than 1,000 babies were born in Woodhull in 2021, according to the city. As the county’s first hospital to be designated “baby-friendly,” meaning it follows guidelines that encourage mother-child bonding and postpartum breastfeeding, Woodhull unveiled its family-centered cesarean birth program earlier this year a particularly low caesarean section rate.

Parish Council Members Chi Ossé and Jennifer Gutiérrez and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams also donated a combined total of nearly $700,000 to upgrade Woodhull’s medical equipment.

“As we fight for justice in this city, investing in spaces that keep black and brown women healthy and encourage true preparedness must be a priority,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “A state-of-the-art birth center in Woodhull will transform life in our community and make huge strides in tackling maternal mortality. Having recently given birth in Woodhull, I know first hand how much your patients, midwives, nurses and doctors will benefit from this important investment.”

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