SUMMIT, NJ -  Overlook Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, recently earned the Perinatal Care Certification from The Joint Commission, a program which recognizes hospitals that are committed to achieving integrated, coordinated and patient-centered care for mothers and their newborns.

Established in 2015, Perinatal Care Certification is awarded for a two-year period to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals.

Achieving this recognition was made possible through an integrated effort coordinated by a number of interdisciplinary teams in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, which includes the Frank and Mimi Walsh Maternity Center at Overlook Medical Center, and the hospital’s quality team.

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“Choosing the hospital in which to deliver a baby is among the most important decisions expectant families can make,” said Fran Drigun, executive director, women’s service line and interim executive director, pediatric service line, Atlantic Health System. “This recognition helps demonstrate to new families that when they deliver at Overlook, they will have a strong partnership of health care providers working to provide them with high quality care and an enhanced experience for mothers and newborns.”

Overlook Medical Center underwent a rigorous onsite review to assess its compliance with certification standards for perinatal care. During the review, Joint Commission experts completed an independent evaluation of Overlook’s perinatal health care services, as well as the following key requirements:

  • Integrated, coordinated patient-centered care that starts with prenatal and continues through postpartum care
  • Early identification of high-risk pregnancies and births
  • Management of mothers’ and newborns’ risks at a level corresponding to the program’s capabilities
  • Available patient education and information about perinatal care services

Among the highlights of Overlook’s maternity services during the Joint Commission survey were:

Physician Engagement, Teamwork

At Overlook, private physicians and hospitalists alike are actively involved in the Perinatal Quality and Safety committee. This committee also has members from all departments, such as case management, legal, quality, nursing, pharmacy, respiratory, dietary, neonatology and maternal fetal medicine to ensure that all aspects of patient care are considered. There are also daily multi-disciplinary rounds so that Overlook maternity patients can receive individualized, coordinated care.

Rigorous Attention to Quality Metrics

Not only are the perinatal core measures -- elective delivery, Cesarean Section, antenatal steroids, newborn blood stream infections, and breastfeeding -- reviewed, but additional quality metrics are also looked at, such as elective induction of labor resulting in Cesarean and vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) attempts and success rates.

Patient Education

Patients receive extensive education, both prior to admission and during their stay. This includes several options for parent education classes (such as childbirth prep, breastfeeding, and newborn care), online learning modules and educational materials that are provided during the inpatient stay.

There are also breastfeeding support and groups available after birth. The Frank and Mimi Walsh Maternity Center at Overlook Medical Center was designated in 2016 as a Baby-Friendly hospital by Baby-Friendly USA. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding -- which includes measures for the hospital to have a written breastfeeding policy to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, and to practice rooming-in, which encourages mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day -- this prestigious international designation is attained after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The designation lasts for five years.

“Achieving Perinatal Care Certification recognizes an organization’s commitment to healthy mothers and healthy babies,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director, Hospital Business Development, The Joint Commission. “The certification gives providers an unparalleled advantage when it comes to preparing mothers for labor and delivery, while also being able to help them if complications arise.”

For a full list of Overlook’s quality achievements from The Joint Commission, click here.

The Joint Commission

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at jointcommission.org.