If you’re an expectant NJMOM, you’re likely weighing all the options when it comes to where to deliver your precious bundle. Of course, proximity and doctor preference help you decide, but when it comes down to it, you want to choose a facility that meets all your needs and has an outstanding reputation. That’s why when we heard so many NJMOMs were choosing Monmouth Medical Center, we wanted to look inside to see what sets this hospital apart. The numbers tell some of the story, with Monmouth Medical Center doubling its births and cutting its c-section rate in half over the past 15 years. But there’s a lot underneath the surface as well—they are known for having the first NICU in New Jersey and a stellar, award-winning teaching reputation across the medical community. We got a peek behind the curtain (literally) at the entire birth experience here and even got a chance to catch up with a mom in active labor (major supermom status).
Monmouth Medical Center is a Teaching Hospital
As a regional teaching campus for Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Monmouth Medical Center prides itself on constantly evolving to keep up with the newest technological advances, health data, and most of all, examining every birth experience to continue learning. At the helm of it all is Dr. Robert Graebe, Chairman and Program Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He says the hospital’s reputation with residents speaks to the staff’s drive to continually improve. “One of the things that set us apart is that we are a teaching hospital. And because it’s a teaching hospital, we look at it from the standpoint of ‘we’re good, but we can still be better.’ So that is the motive that drives the excellence we have at the hospital,” Graebe says.
First-time mom Liz Amberger, who we spoke with while in labor (she had a contraction during the interview!), says she noticed the communication and cohesive feel of the care the moment she arrived. “Everything has been exceptional here. The team here at Monmouth has been amazing. They all work together, and everybody knows each patient. It’s been great,” Amberger added. Detailed white erase boards in each room give a play-by-play of each patient’s care, including everything from medications to details on the baby once the bundle arrives. Staff says it’s all intended to empower patients with as much information as possible for their care and keep every doctor, nurse, or resident in communication as a team.
Awards and Experience Matter
Dr. Graebe says the hospital’s record draws families looking for a high level of expertise and state-of-the-art care. MMC was one of the first community hospitals in the entire country to establish a NICU and was the first NICU in New Jersey. The hospital delivers more babies every year than all other hospitals in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined, at over 6,200 births with only a 14% Cesarean rate, which is less than half the national rate. What’s more, they were recently one of nine New Jersey hospitals recognized by Newsweek Leapfrog as a top maternity hospital.. “We were ranked in the recent past by Consumer Reports as 5th out of 1,500 top hospitals in 22 states in the US and the only hospital in the Northeast to make the top ten. Our awards include the Leapfrog Award (multiple times), Women’s Choice Award, Becker’s Hospital Review Top 100 – Maternity, even IBM Watson Award for Excellence for the hospital overall. We are very proud of additionally receiving the IBM Watson Award Top 25 Teaching Award that same year, followed by Washington Monthly and Newsweek Leapfrog Top Teaching Awards ,” says Dr. Graebe.
For second-time dad Erik Wahl, it’s that reputation that prompted his family to choose Monmouth for their babies’ births. “This is the second time we came here to have a baby. The process was smooth, very easy, and they took care of baby and mom,” says Wahl.
The ‘Hall of Hope’ shares stories of strength from patients and their families who spend time in Monmouth Medical Center’s NICU.
The Monmouth Miracle Center
In partnership with local non-profit Michael’s Feat, the NICU has a private room where parents can get some much-needed sleep breaks in between tending to their babies. It’s a place to take a moment for self-care, since Michael’s Feat has snacks and a private waiting area specifically for NICU families to gather. And the pictures from the adjoining Hall of Hope tell heartwarming stories of strength straight from the NICU floor. “As you read the placards, you realize the wonderful miracles that occur here. One of our nicknames is the Monmouth Miracle Center. And these testimonials remind us all the time why it is so important we do what we do,” Dr. Graebe said.
“What patients don’t see in the background is a highly-educated group of health care professionals striving to give the best care that they possibly can. They’re always advocating for the patients,” Dr. Graebe added. “You frequently will hear that you can judge a society by the health of its women. We only have one time to get it right. And so we have to do it right, right from the beginning.”