BP Reynoso allocates $18.5M to Coney hospital’s women’s health department

Antonio Reynoso allocates funds to NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island.
Borough President Antonio Reynoso allocated funds to NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island to improve women’s health and reduce the Black pregnancy mortality rate.
Courtesy of the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso met with local leaders Tuesday to announce the second of three capital funding releases to address maternal mortality rates — $18.5 million for NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island’s women’s health department.

According to Reynoso’s office, the Coney Island hospital is receiving the largest allocation from the beep’s fiscal year capital funding, with the goal of expanding on the facility’s maternal health care services and reducing the maternal mortality rate among Black women.

“It’s important for me to ensure that every corner of Brooklyn is given an equitable amount of attention and resources when trying to build a more sustainable, safer, livable future in this borough,” Reynoso said in a statement. “Being able to invest a substantial amount of funds across our three Brooklyn public hospitals will help upgrade services throughout the borough, including in South Brooklyn where NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island stands.”

The funding will go toward creating a comprehensive and safe experience for women at the partnering hospitals. Changes will be made to the outpatient care center, labor and delivery rooms, postpartum recovery and the NICU.

According to Svetlana Lipyanskaya, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island, the funding will have a major impact on Black health. 

“The Borough President’s generous infusion of capital funding will help complete a multi-year master plan for the future NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health and its Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital. Provision of equitable and state-of-the-art women’s health care services to the residents of South Brooklyn and neighboring communities is a cornerstone in the hospital’s clinical strategy,” said Lipyanskaya. “It is inconceivable that Black women are eight times more likely to die from complications during birth in New York City. I wholeheartedly support the Borough President’s goal of addressing the maternal mortality disparity between women of color and their white counterparts and making Brooklyn the safest borough in NYC to give birth.”

Tuesday’s announcement came just one week after the beep announced an allocation of $11 million in capital funds for a new “state of the art” birthing center at NYC Health+Hospitals/Woodhull Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A third allocation of $15.5 million is set to be announced later this week, going to the same case.

antonio reynoso woodhull hospital birth center check
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso is giving Woodhull Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant $11 million in capital funding for the construction of a brand-new birthing center.Courtesy of the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President

“I thank our city’s public healthcare system for being a trusted partner in my efforts to close maternal mortality rates among Black pregnant people,” Reynoso said.

The mortality rate for “non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births as of February 2022, according to data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — more than two times the rate for non-Hispanic White women.

Brooklyn had the second-highest birthrate in the five boroughs in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, with 89.7 pregnancies per 1,000 women of childbearing age, and had the highest number of deaths — 15 — attributed to pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum complications. East New York and Brownsville had some of the highest numbers of infant mortality of all New York City neighborhoods, and Brooklyn as a whole had an infant mortality rate of 6.7% — representing 1,300 deaths.

And in August 2021, researchers with the National Institute of Health shared the rate may be higher than what was previously reported.

The issue became a personal one for Reynoso when his wife was pregnant, and during his campaign, he pledged to reduce the disparity in Brooklyn — and to make Kings County one of the safest places to have a baby in the country. Soon after his inauguration, the former North Brooklyn councilmember launched his administration’s Maternal Health Taskforce, which has helped to lay the groundwork for his maternal health agenda, and helped to determine where his entire $45 million capital budget would go.

“Brooklyn is the fastest growing borough in New York City and it has the second-highest birth rate. NYC Health + Hospitals applauds Borough President Antonio Reynoso for his vision to make Brooklyn one of the safest places to give birth,” Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of  NYC Health + Hospitals. “While racial disparities in birth outcomes are evident nationwide, our health care system is committed to reducing and eliminating these inequalities by creating safer birth experiences for New Yorkers.”

Reynoso’s funding will help the hospital system “further improve maternal health outcomes,” Katz said. “We thank Mr. Reynoso for his tremendous partnership and generosity, and we are most grateful for his gift.”

Additional reporting by Kirstyn Brendlen