(Courtesy of St. Mary’s General Hospital) “It’s not uncommon for a woman in labor to have a prayer book and be saying prayers as she experiences contractions,” explained George Matyjewicz, Ph.D., community liaison at St. Mary’s General Hospital as he finished another training session, this time for the Maternity/Labor & Delivery team at St. Mary’s General Hospital.1 “She may also give a doula a quarter or some money for tzedakah —charity. And the husband will not be holding her hand or even be in the room while she is having her baby, because she is in niddah; she is bleeding, and it goes against the laws of family purity.”
These are just some of the more private and deeply observed religious rituals that the staff at St. Mary’s General Hospital has been learning about in order to provide the most culturally sensitive—and medically excellent—care possible. Matyjewicz has spent the last year educating the entire hospital staff about the local frum community of Passaic-Clifton (the second largest in New Jersey) and how to best serve their unique needs. And in the event a staff member is not sure of how to deal with a request from a frum patient, they know to immediately reach out to the hospital rabbi, the advisory board2 members or Matyjewicz.
“A healthy mother and baby are the goal we share with all of our patients,” said Lillian Camacho, RN, BSN, PCE, CBS, the hospital’s director of maternal child health. “We accomplish this by providing award-winning, compassionate care to mothers, newborns and families at every stage. Our approach is one of respect for each family’s unique needs. And our focus is offering the care that best suits your medical and emotional needs, as well as cultural traditions.”
“During this COVID period, women are encouraged to select one coach in labor and delivery,” Camacho continued. “A significant other may stay with them 24/7 for extra support. We also welcome doulas and midwives. And one visitor for a half hour between noon and 8 p.m. to ensure that both mother and baby get the rest they need to recover and return home as soon as possible. Our new family waiting room offers educational materials, books for children, a color TV and refreshments. Our doctors and nurses speak various languages, and our kitchen is pleased to serve a candlelit kosher dinner to new parents to celebrate this special milestone.”
For the last four years in a row, St. Mary’s General has been the recipient of the Healthgrades™ Five-Star Award (2016–2019) for both vaginal delivery and C-section delivery. In addition, St. Mary’s General was awarded the Gynecologic Surgery Excellence Award (2018 and 2019), making St. Mary’s General one of only six hospitals to receive this distinction in New Jersey.
Both the Labor & Delivery and Maternity Units have been recently renovated and feature new furniture, soft lighting, artwork and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Patients remain in one private, spacious birthing suite for their labor, delivery and recovery.
“Throughout history, it has been typical for a group of women to provide physical and emotional support through the labor and birth of their child,” said Suzanne Fishman, CD3(DONA)4. “Today, many women choose to have a doula (birth coach) who functions in this role. A growing number of moms are looking to reduce medical intervention, and hospitals are encouraging the process to happen more naturally. That’s why a doula can be such an important person for the couple—a soothing source of comfort and support for mom and an advocate with the doctors and hospital staff.”
A doula receives her training which includes learning about alternative ways to help minimize the pain and lessen the amount of medical intervention for a laboring mom. Doulas will help promote a more calm and relaxed birth experience which includes various breathing techniques, reflexology, acupressure, massage, aromatherapy and using different positions to help ease the baby in delivery.”
Once safely recovered, new mothers are moved to a newly redecorated private room, that features individual showers, recliners, televisions, telephones, an electronic infant security system and a special kosher dinner for new parents. Pull-out sofas are available along with meals for significant others who wish to stay with you and your baby overnight. The hospital also maintains a Bikur-Cholim stocked Shabbos Room, Shabbos door, elevator and path and gracious assistance of the local community, with 30 shuls in the kehila.
The fully renovated Maternal-Child Health Center at St. Mary’s General Hospital features a Level II Nursery specializing in the delivery and care of high-risk infants born as early as 32 weeks. And they have a transfer agreement with St. Joseph’s if needed.
With you every step of the way, St. Mary’s General provides free classes in prenatal nutrition and breastfeeding, along with certified breastfeeding consultants during your stay. St. Mary’s General Hospital accepts most insurance plans and on-site Medicaid Services. Free valet parking is available to all patients.
For more information or to make an appointment to tour the unit, please call 973-365-4775, or email [email protected]
St. Mary’s General Hospital--nationally recognized, locally preferred--among the top hospitals in America for health, quality, and patient safety! A center of excellence for maternal-child, the hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care - to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about how St. Mary’s General Hospital visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.
For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, Community Liaison at [email protected]
1 “Understanding Judaism: The Professional’s Guide in A Hospital Environment” written and copyrighted by George Matyjewicz, Ph.D. and designed to educate staff in dealing with the Orthodox Jewish communities.
2 Advisory Board consisting of frum Rabbanim, medical professionals and key people in the kehila.
3 Suzanne Fishman, CD(DONA), Total Care Doula, Passaic, NJ. Available for a free consultation 973-346-2713 or [email protected]
4 Doulas of North America (DONA), now DONA International offers non-medical birth and postpartum support training and certification https://www.dona.org