VALHALLA, N.Y. – Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) has announced the launch of its Center for Women’s Health Equity, a new care program that will address the social, economic, cultural and racial determinants of health that can result in increased maternal morbidity and mortality among women across the Hudson Valley. Supported by a $750,000 New York State grant secured by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and with the support of New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the members of the New York State Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul, the WMCHealth Center for Women’s Health Equity has locations at Westchester Medical Center in Westchester County and another at HealthAlliance Hospital in Ulster County.
The Center for Women’s Health Equity will be the first program of its kind based in New York State’s Hudson Valley region, and will have an initial aim of reducing the leading causes of death among pregnant women by integrating specialists in maternal-fetal medicine, whose expertise is the care of complex medical problems affecting pregnant women, with its heart and vascular program clinicians to take a more proactive and holistic view of elevated risk factors among women, particularly those of color.
“WMCHealth’s vital mission is to provide the highest-quality care for all residents of the Hudson Valley, and we expect the Center for Women’s Health Equity to help improve outcomes for the women WMCHealth serves,” said Michael D. Israel, President and CEO, WMCHealth. “We expect the Center for Women’s Health Equity to be a model for other health networks across the country to follow, and would like to thank our New York State representatives for having the foresight to make such a significant investment in this important program.”
“We are addressing one of the greatest challenges that exists in public health today – the socioeconomic and racial determinants of health that results in the premature death of women of color across the Hudson Valley” said Sean Tedjarati, MD, MPH, MBA, Director of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Westchester Medical Center. “By bringing together and integrating all of these necessary services, we aim to eliminate clinical silos and bridge the gaps that will help empower patients and community partners while improving care and saving lives.”
A New York State Health Emergency
Addressing maternal mortality is an urgent health risk particularly in the United States, where in 2021 the mortality rate was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births*, more than 10 times the estimated rates of some other high-income countries**, driven largely by significant disparities in health outcomes experienced by minority women. The situation is especially dire in New York State, where Black, non-Hispanic women are up to five times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than White non-Hispanic women.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins: “I’m proud to support WMCHealth’s Center for Women’s Health Equity in its mission to reduce health disparities among women in our region. It is crucial that we address the socioeconomic and racial impacts on healthcare that contribute disproportionately to the premature deaths of pregnant women of color. This Center will have a major impact on women’s healthcare disparities in the Hudson Valley as it works to improve outcomes, save lives, and create a more equitable healthcare system. With the $750,000 State grant, New York is taking a significant step towards closing these gaps, underscoring our unwavering commitment to high quality healthcare for all women.”
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Health
“As the new Health Chair of the New York State Assembly one of my top priorities is addressing maternal mortality. I commend Westchester Medical Center on the launch of its new Center for Women’s Health Equity, and am very pleased to have secured the initial funding. Implementing innovative programs which directly address the issues expectant mothers face, including socio-economic determinants, is critical to improving maternal birth and overall health outcomes. I look forward to the future success of the new Center for Women’s Health and appreciate its important focus on this critical public health emergency. Women shouldn’t have to worry about dying when they get pregnant.”
In the coming year, the WMCHealth Center for Women’s Health Equity will expand to include preventative oncological support to address increased risk of breast and gynecological cancers with an emphasis on cervical cancer, which still imposes a high burden on Black and Hispanic populations.
The program is accessible today in Westchester County at 19 Bradhurst Avenue in Hawthorne or by calling 914.493.2080 and in Ulster County at 373 Broadway Avenue in Kingston or by calling 845.303.1132. For additional information, visit WMCHealth.org/Womens-Health-Equity