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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 14, 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | john.gillespie@downstate.edu | (718)270-2262

Governor Cuomo Appoints SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley to Newly-formed Maternal Mortality Review Board

President Dr. Wayne J. Riley and Clinical Associate Professor Aleida Llanes-Oberstein to Serve on Board Examining Every Maternal Mortality Case and Offer Recommendations on Strategies for Preventing Future Deaths

Brooklyn, N.Y. (November 14, 2019) – SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University announced today that the institution’s president, Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP was appointed to serve on the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Board by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The newly-formed board will review the cause of each maternal death in the state and make recommendations to the New York State Department of Health on strategies for preventing future deaths and improving overall health outcomes for mothers in New York.

“I am honored to receive this appointment by Governor Cuomo, and I look forward to reviewing and sharing best practices with the other distinguished members of the Review Board as we work to address this critical issue,” said SUNY Downstate president Wayne J. Riley, MD. “Childbirth should be a celebration of life. However, for many expecting families, the racial inequalities found in maternal care have led to a prevalence of maternal mortality, especially among black women. At SUNY Downstate, we are dedicated to being at the forefront of finding a solution to mitigate this alarming trend.”

SUNY Downstate Clinical Associate Professor Aleida Llanes-Oberstein, CNM, LM, MS, FACNM, CHSE,  was also appointed to serve on the Board’s Executive Committee.

New York State has allocated $8 million over the next two years to support recommendations from the New York State Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes, including initiatives like the Review Board. New York is one of 24 states to receive a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support ongoing efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates and addressing racial disparities.

According to the CDC, black women are more than four times more likely to die from giving birth than white women. The CDC also found American women overall are more likely to die from childbirth and other pregnancy-related issues than women in other developed countries. 

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.