Gouverneur Healthcare announced today that a midwife who has devoted her career to improving the maternal health of low-income women in China and those who are recent immigrants seen at Gouverneur in Lower Manhattan has been selected to go to China as part of a United Nations program to reduce maternal death and disability rates through increased use of certified midwives.
Dewan Duan, a Certified Midwife with a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University, also earned her medical degree and Ph.D. in China and has been working with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) H4+ program to improve maternal health in countries with high maternal mortality.
The UNFPA China and Chinese Maternal and Child Health Association have launched a pilot program in Hunan province that incorporates the formal inclusion of a midwifery curriculum and certification in medical education systems that Ms. Duan recommended. At the same time, the program will promote natural delivery in selected hospitals by working with health providers and clients. Ms. Duan is helping to develop a midwifery education curriculum for China to strengthen China’s capacity to train skilled healthcare professionals.
The UN pilot program will incorporate many of the successful practices followed at Gouverneur, where almost 700 women received prenatal care in the last 12 months. Gouverneur’s midwifery service provides high-quality prenatal, childbirth, postpartum and well-woman care with lower cost and improved outcomes. Most of these women deliver their babies at Bellevue Hospital Center. Gouverneur and Bellevue are member facilities of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).
Gouverneur is among the City’s largest providers of outpatient services to Chinese New Yorkers. During Fiscal Year 2011 Gouverneur provided 325,000 visits, with Asian Americans accounting for more than 88,000 visits for approximately 15,000 individuals.
“Providing care to Chinese New Yorkers is vital to Gouverneur’s mission,” said Executive Director Mendel Hagler. “Many of our patients are recent immigrants and our understanding of healthcare issues in China improves treatment. Programs that enable us to exchange best practices and areas of expertise with healthcare partners in China benefit everyone. We are proud of Dewan because of the care she provides and dedication to her community and field of medicine.”
Duan leaves for China on June 13, 2012. “I look forward to participating in this program because of the potential to improve the health for millions of women and their newborns in China each year,” she said.
Duan graduated from Beijing University School of Medicine in China in 1984 and became involved in China’s maternal health programs. Her interest continued after she moved to the United States, where she got her Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University in 1995 and completed the direct entry program for certified midwife at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2001. She worked at Gouverneur and Bellevue from 2001 to 2004 and returned to Gouverneur last year.
China has significantly reduced maternal mortality during the past 20 years by promoting hospital deliveries. However further improvement is being challenged by a shortage of trained healthcare professionals and lack of resources. The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) seeks to reduce maternal death and disabilities through better family planning, access to skilled care at time of birth, and availability of quality emergency obstetric care when a complication occurs.
A shortage of qualified midwives and a lack of health education on natural delivery among mothers-to-be and their families have led to unnecessary obstetric interventions, particularly caesarean sections. It is estimated that nearly half of the 13 million babies born in China each year are delivered through caesarean section and one quarter of these operations – the highest proportion in the region – were undertaken for reasons not purely medical. These unnecessary procedures expose pregnant women and their babies to much higher health risks.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 413,000 member health plan, MetroPlus, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year and more than 450,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.
Gouverneur provides primary and specialty outpatient care through its Diagnostic and Treatment Center (D&TC) and residential care for the elderly and infirmed in its Nursing Facility (NF). As such, Gouverneur serves a diverse population that includes vulnerable young and old, who are likely to be indigent, uninsured or receiving public assistance. A majority of those seeking care are members of ethnic minorities such as Asian, Hispanic or African-American.
Gouverneur’s D&TC is the largest freestanding D&TC in New York, providing more than 300,000 visits per year. The D&TC patient population is approximately 75% Asian or Hispanic. Special programs targeted to underserved/minorities include the Asian Bicultural Program for culturally sensitive mental health services and the Roberto Clemente Center for mental health and primary care services for Hispanic individuals.
The D&TC provides a comprehensive array of on-site services, including dentistry, podiatry, optometry, psychiatry, radiology, infections disease, and other specialties and sub-specialties. Therapy services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and audiology, and vocational rehabilitation. On-site services available to nursing home residents include a clinical laboratory, pharmacy, podiatry, respiratory therapy, patient activities, social work, and imaging center with digital ultrasound and mammography.