According to the March of Dimes, nearly half a million babies in the United States are born too soon. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he is to have health problems. Premature babies, born before 37 weeks, are at an even greater risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities.
In an effort to support and promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, Monmouth Medical Center, led by Diann Johnston, vice president of patient care services for Monmouth and chairperson of the Jersey Shore March of Dimes March for Babies 2014, recently celebrated the start of the March of Dimes March for Babies 2014 fundraiser.
- "Monmouth Medical Center and the March of Dimes share similar goals to support and promote health pregnancies and healthy babies," Johnston said. "In fact, in 2010, The March of Dimes celebrated the installation of a NICU Family Support Center at Monmouth Medical Center's Unterberg Children's Hospital to provide information and comfort to families of premature babies and other critically ill newborns being cared for in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and for women hospitalized on the antepartum unit."
- The experience can be overwhelming for families, and the NICU Family Support aims to make the journey through newborn intensive care smoother and less traumatic for families, she adds.
"Preparing for a new baby is a time of great excitement, and while families don't expect anything to go wrong, the fact is that in New Jersey, one in 10 newborns wind up in a NICU because they are born too soon, too small, or with a birth defect," she said.
Monmouth Medical Center's Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center is uniquely equipped to meet the needs of infants born too early or too small or who require special care or surgery. In 1968, Monmouth became the first hospital in N.J. to establish a newborn intensive care unit, and today, the newly expanded Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation Regional Newborn Center provides specialized care to more than 500 babies annually – even those weighing less than a pound and born at just 24 weeks' gestation. It is the region's largest state-designated Level III neonatal intensive care unit and has one of the highest survival rates among NICUS in the country.
On hand at the event were the Teeters Lamothe family – the 2014 March of Dimes national ambassador family, whose son Aidan David was born at 28 weeks and 5 days, weighing only 3 pounds.
Aidan David spent seven weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit to promote his growth and development. At the time of his premature birth, Aidan's challenges included low birth weight, respiratory distress, anemia of prematurity, jaundice and hearing concerns. Today, he is a healthy 6-year-old who, along with his parents Jill Teeters and Dave Lamothe, was selected as March of Dimes' 2014 National Ambassadors to travel the country and share their personal story to inspire support for March of Dimes' mission to improve the health of all babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
Monmouth Medical Center delivers more babies than any other hospital in Ocean and Monmouth counties. In 2013, in an effort to meet the growing demand, Monmouth expanded The Eisenberg Family Center with the addition of a new postpartum pavilion and newborn nursery and expanded its NICU within the Regional Newborn Center at The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth to provide high-level care to more newborns in need of special services.
The kick-off event was a precursor for the Jersey Shore March of Dimes March for Babies 2014 scheduled for May 4 at 11 a.m. on the Asbury Park boardwalk.
"March for Babies, the March of Dimes' largest fundraiser, helps fund lifesaving research and educational programs aimed at helping moms have healthy babies. Last year in Monmouth and Ocean counties, more than $270,000 was raised," said Kelly Witkowski, Executive Director, Central Jersey Division of the March of Dimes' New Jersey Chapter. "This year, March for Babies Chair Diann Johnston will focus on recruiting new companies to participate and lead the community in making a difference for the health of moms and babies."
"Volunteering for the March of Dimes has allowed us to give back for Aidan's life and has opened our eyes to the breadth and depth of issues facing parents and their newborn children," said Aidan's mother, Jill Teeters. "We have met many families who had have been through a premature birth experience, and we know we are among the luckiest families. Whether facing significant medical hurdles or dealing with a loss of a little one, March of Dimes volunteers give back in order to help others. We are honored to serve this organization alongside so many amazing supporters and families."
For more information about The Eisenberg Family Center and Regional Newborn Center at The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, visit www.barnasbashealth.org.
PHOTO: From right, Diann Johnston, vice president of patient care services for Monmouth and chairperson of the Jersey Shore March of Dimes March for Babies 2014, gathers with Jim Breslin, clinical director of Monmouth's Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Regional Newborn Center, Jill Teeters and her son, Aidan David, 6, national March of Dimes ambassador for the 2014 walk, and Michael Perdoni, vice president of operations at Monmouth.
About Monmouth Medical Center
Located in Long Branch, N.J., Monmouth Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility, along with The Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, is one of New Jersey's largest academic medical centers and has been a teaching affiliate of Philadelphia's Drexel University College of Medicine for more than 40 years. From its earliest days, Monmouth Medical Center has been a leader in surgical advancement and has introduced many technological firsts to the region, including robotic surgery and other minimally invasive techniques. The hospital is routinely recognized by HealthGrades, the nation's largest premier independent health care quality company, for excellence in both emergency medicine and maternity care. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Monmouth as a regional leader in cancer, geriatrics, gynecology, neurology and neurosurgery. For more information on Monmouth Medical Center, visit