Baby steps: Northwell newborns outpace nation

Frontrunner: Austin Joseph Sparacio, the first of more than 40,000 babies delivered in 2016 by Northwell Health providers, with his mom, Vanessa.

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Bucking national trends, Northwell Health is hip-deep in chubby cheeks and loaded diapers after delivering more than 40,000 bouncing babies in 2016. That projected 4 percent annual increase – they’re still counting little fingers and toes – goes against the national newborn tide, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marking some record lows.

According to the CDC, over the first three months of 2016, the U.S. fertility rate fell to its lowest point since record-keeping started in 1909, with only 59.8 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.

That followed only 3.98 million U.S. births in 2015, according to CDC numbers, a 0.3 percent decline from 2014.

But you wouldn’t know it at Northwell Health, which boasts New York State’s busiest maternity department – the Katz Women’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, responsible for more than 9,400 deliveries in 2016 – and accounts for roughly 17 percent of all New York births (1 percent of all national newborns).

Michael Nimaroff, Northwell Health’s interim director of obstetrics and gynecology services, said bringing more than 40,000 babies into the world in 2016 was “both an honor and a privilege” for providers at the health system’s 11 hospital-based maternity programs.

“The goal of everyone associated with these world-class facilities is providing the best clinical care, which is why our outcomes for both mothers and infants are among the best in the nation,” Nimaroff said Tuesday.

Other Northwell Health hospitals recording significant increases in 2016 deliveries included Bay Shore’s Southside Hospital, which reported an 8 percent jump, and Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center, where births increased about 7 percent.

Expecting even more expectant families in 2017, the health system has several maternity department expansions in the oven. A “major renovation project” is scheduled to begin in February at the Katz Women’s Hospital at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, according to Northwell Health, with a new operating room, upgraded labor and delivery rooms and additional post-operative care beds on tap.

Also planned for the coming months are 10 new private rooms in the maternity unit at LIJ Forest Hills Hospital, which is also renovating its Level 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and a conversion of Huntington Hospital’s maternity rooms into 17 private suites – designed to accommodate mom, baby and family members – with full bathrooms and state-of-the-art monitoring, according to the health system.

“Our vision is to provide high-quality care for patients in the communities in which they live and work,” Nimaroff noted. “That is why we are investing about $25 million over the next two years at several of our maternity programs to enhance our commitment to women’s health and family-centered care.”


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