First Lady Tammy Murphy, New Jersey Department of Health Convenes New Maternal Mortality Review Committee

First Lady Tammy Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli today held the first meeting of the new, broader Maternal Mortality Review Committee comprised of 24 members representing diverse disciplines across the health field.

The New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee (NJMMRC) is an expert panel that performs comprehensive reviews of deaths among women to determine circumstances surrounding the death, the contributing factors, and recommendations for prevention. ​


“Today marks a new chapter in our multipronged approach to combat the maternal and infant health crisis in New Jersey,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “The revamped Maternal Mortality Review Committee will support our ongoing efforts to identify and understand various factors that lead to unacceptable maternal deaths due to pregnancy related complications. This committee is instrumental to our goal of making New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to give birth.”


The New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee is among the oldest in the United States and has worked collaboratively under the Department’s auspices for decades.  Last year, legislation signed by Governor Murphy gave the committee increased powers to make informed recommendations and expanded duties to assess drivers of maternal death and disparities.  Membership of the committee was prescribed in the statute.


“New Jersey is thankful to have such a broad array of experts serving on this vital committee,” said Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. “The committee’s examination of these deaths will ensure accurate counting and inform initiatives to prevent these tragic losses going forward.”


During the inaugural meeting, the committee’s history, statutory authority, and the case review process were discussed.


The committee’s work will be supported by a $450,000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.  Additionally, the Department was awarded a $2.1 million a year grant for five years from the Health Resources and Services Administration to advance health equity and address disparities in maternal health outcomes, which will also help fund the NJMMRC.


Membership of the Committee includes:

  1. Kemi Alli, MD, CEO of Henry J. Austin Health Center
  2. Joseph Apuzzio, MD, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Professor and Vice Chair Obstetrics Gynecology & Women’s Health, Director Maternal Fetal Medicine, Professor Radiology
  3. Julie Blumenfeld, MSN, CNM, IBCLC, Nurse Midwife, President, New Jersey Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives
  4. Damali Campbell, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology & Women’s Health, Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School
  5. Robyn D’Oria, MA, RNC, APN, CEO of Central Jersey Family Health Consortium
  6. Judy Donlen, RN, DNSc, JD, Executive Director, Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative
  7. Victoria Hedley, MA, CPM, CM, Owner of Seventh Moon ~ Homebirth Midwifery Services and immediate past President of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA)
  8. Debra Sheldon Heller, MD, Professor, Department of Pathology, Immunology, & Laboratory Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  9. Quinn Ingemi, MA, LPC, Regional Coordinator for the Perinatal Addictions Prevention Project and Project Embrace/MWRAP at the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative
  10. Neeraja Kairam, MD, Associate Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Morristown Medical Center
  11. Rita Knause, MD, FACOG Chief Medical Officer of North Hudson Community Action Corporation
  12. Thomas Lind, MD, FAAP (Ex-Officio member), Medical Director of the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services in the Department of Human Services
  13. Linda Sloan Locke, CNM, MPH, LSW, FACNM, American College of Nurse Midwives
  14. Erin M. Mayo, DVM, MPH (Ex-Officio member), Research Scientist at New Jersey Department of Health
  15. Alexis Menken, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
  16. Lakeshia Montgomery, RN, BSN, Nurse Coordinator for the Nurse Family Partnership at Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative
  17. Toni Primas, MSN, RN, CARN, Nurse Coordinator, Center for Healing, Division of Addiction Medicine, Cooper University Health Care
  18. Clayton North Scott, MD, MPH (Ex-Officio member), Research Scientist at New Jersey Department of Health
  19. Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, CBC, RWJBarnabas Health Vice President of Women’s Services
  20. Patricia D. Suplee PhD, RNC-OB, Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), NJ Section Chair
  21. Thomas Westover, MD, FACOG, President of the New Jersey section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  22. Alexander Wolfson, MD, FASA, Staff Anesthesiologist at Penn Medicine, Princeton Health
  23. Alex Zhang, MD, Deputy Chief State Medical Examiner
  24. Ilise Zimmerman, MPH, MS, President and CEO of the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey


The work of the NJMMRC will support Nurture NJ, the First Lady’s statewide awareness campaign that is committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity and ensuring equitable maternal and infant care among women and children of all races and ethnicities.


More information on Nurture NJ can be found at


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Source: Insider NJ,