TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today introduced a bill in the Senate that would require all state designated children’s hospitals to have a pediatric emergency physician on duty at all times in emergency departments.
“Any parent will tell you that one infant death is one too many,” said Sen. Codey. “When babies in the United States are twice as likely to die than those in many other developed countries, clearly we need to do more. The first step is making sure that hospitals have the type of specialized care on hand to deal with conditions that are unique to newborns and infants.”
Bill S-2703 was designed to ensure that the highest quality emergency care is provided to infants and children in New Jersey. The new regulation would apply to all hospitals in the state that are designated by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services as a “children’s hospital.”
Presently, the following 10 hospitals are designated as such: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, St. Peter’s University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, Jersey City Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center and Morristown Memorial Hospital.
This summer, Sen. Codey intends to convene a panel of experts – physicians, hospital administrators, and academics – to study the issues surrounding infant mortality and the ways in which New Jersey’s health care system can better address infant care.
Sen. Codey credited the R Baby Foundation and its founders – Andrew and Phyllis Rabinowitz – for bringing to light many concerns surrounding the care and treatment of infants in hospital emergency departments. The Rabinowitz’s established the foundation after they lost their infant daughter last year to a viral infection that was treated as a common cold.
“Quite frankly, I had been concerned for awhile over disclosure procedures in emergency departments, particularly whether parents were being told that their child was being treated by a pediatrician or a regular ER physician,” added Sen. Codey. “When Andrew Rabinowitz contacted my office looking for support for their new initiatives, we were eager to listen and find out how we could do more.”
The World Health Organization has ranked the United States 36th among nations in infant mortality rates, with one in 141 infants dying within the first 28 days of life.
Sen. Codey expects the Senate’s Health and Senior Services Committee to schedule a hearing on the bill sometime in June.