Maternity Hospital Quality Improvement Network

Pregnant people of color in New York City are at greater risk for death and complications related to their pregnancies and births. The NYC Health Department is committed to equity and acknowledges the impact of racism on these disparities (PDF).

We have adopted a comprehensive approach — partnering with government agencies, health care systems and community organizations and members — to address the root causes of preventable racial and ethnic inequities in maternal outcomes.

The Maternity Hospital Quality Improvement Network initiative is a part of the city’s plan to promote equity in maternal care. The initiative works with NYC maternity hospitals to prevent and reduce disparities in maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.

The following are the three main intervention areas:

  • Enhancing clinical awareness and practice change around equity in maternal care.
    • The network works to address non-clinical factors impacting maternal health outcomes such as social determinants of health and incorporating social determinants of health in clinical case reviews

  • Support anti-racist hospital systems.
    • The initiative focuses on institutional transformation, with strategies that promote respectful and equitable care. We aim to address implicit bias and structural racism to promote both better patient-provider interaction and person-centered care. We do this by supporting hospitals in pathways for accreditation towards doula-friendliness. We help hospitals increase patient and staff knowledge of doula support, integrate doulas into the birthing team and develop and implement formal doula-friendly policies and practices.

  • Elevate community voices, experiences and power.
    • The initiative aims to center the voice of the patient in their health and empower them to advocate for respectful maternity care. We do this by:
      • Providing access to health promotion programs in communities through the neighborhood Birth Justice hubs.
      • Connecting birthing people with community-based doulas and services.

Respectful Maternity Care

The Health Department defines respectful care as promoting health equity by fostering an environment where patients feel empowered to assert their rights and advocate for themselves, where providers listen and trust their patients and establish respectful and dignified patient-provider communication.

This initiative uses two strategies using the New York City Standards for Respectful Care at Birth:

  1. The initiative seeks to create health care systems that support respectful maternity care along the reproductive care continuum (prenatal, birthing, and postpartum). Providers are educated on anti-racist maternity care practices, core racial equity and social justice areas and receive tools and technical support to implement respectful maternity care.

  2. Building demand through community advocacy for respectful care to support pregnant and parenting people in knowing their rights for respectful maternity care. Increase awareness, access and utilization of quality services focused on TRIE neighborhoods and neighborhoods with high severe maternal morbidity.

Learn more about NYC Standards and other resources for Respectful Care at Birth.

Community Engagement

Connecting Hospitals to Community-Based Doulas

The Health Department partners with community-based doulas to support maternity hospitals in developing and implementing doula-friendly policies and practices. We help hospitals build referral pathways to community-based doula services.

Neighborhood Birth Justice Hubs

The NYC Health Department links hospitals to local birth justice defenders with lived experiences to provide sexual and reproductive health education. These connections help community members:

  • Get the reproductive health education they need.
  • Share information with their community and participate in conversations with providers to initiate change.
  • Build relationships with health care providers
  • Use personal birth stories as tools for advocacy and community organization.
  • Learn how to advocate for respectful care throughout pregnancy, birth and post-partum.

Below are the local birth justice hubs offering services, education and advocacy to New Yorkers. If you would like to become a Birth Justice Defender in your community, email

Learning Collaborative

The mission of the Learning Collaborative is to equitably improve screening, identification and treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Screenings (PMADs) and Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) in pregnant and postpartum Black and Latina people. The Collaborative takes an integrated approach to improvement by joining multiple organizations together to share resources and information to achieve goals that might not be attainable for a single organization working on its own. This Collaborative focuses on the following core concepts:

  • Perinatal and Post-Partum Mood and Anxiety Disorders, with a Focus on Non-depression Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Screening Tool
  • Testing
    • Informed Consent
  • Quality Care and Treatment
    • Medication Assisted Treatment
    • Referrals
    • Plan of Safe Care
  • Reporting and Structural Racism
    • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA)
  • Support Outside of the Healthcare Systems
    • Community-Based Partners
    • Care Management

Resources for Maternity Hospitals in NYC

Our Partners

Additional Resources

More Information