Ruiz, Vitale Legislation to Provide Cost-Free Postpartum Home Visits Advances

Trenton – To address the state’s maternal mortality crisis, the Senate Health Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Joe Vitale which would provide all New Jersey parents access to one cost-free postpartum visit.
“Over the last several years we’ve seen reports on what it can mean to have a visit at home during the first few weeks after a birth, it is a critical time for both the parents and the baby. For first-time mothers and fathers, it doesn’t matter what you look like, what language you speak, what faith you adhere to, it is a challenging time frame. Nationwide, approximately 52 percent of maternal deaths occur during the postpartum period and nearly two-thirds of deaths are attributed to preventable causes. Home visits, within the first couple of weeks after giving birth, give an opportunity to identify these health conditions that all too often go undiagnosed and untreated,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “A visit from a nurse can not only provide a wellness check for the parent and the child but also needed referrals for further medical care or social services.”
The bill, S-690, would require the Department of Children and Families to establish and implement a universal home visitation program. The program would provide all new parents with a home visit from a registered nurse within the first two weeks following delivery.
“As many as 40 percent of women in the US don’t attend a postpartum visit, meaning they don’t see an OBGYN after leaving the hospital,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), chair of the Senate Health Committee. “This legislation will ensure all new parents in the state have access to one home visit, connecting them to valuable resources to ease their transition from pregnancy to parenthood.”
The visit would include a weight and health check of the newborn, breastfeeding support, an assessment of the physical wellness of the parent and assistance identifying and coping with perinatal mood disorders.
If enacted, New Jersey would follow Oregon and become the second state in the nation to adopt a universal home visiting program for the families of newborns.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 8-0.