Newswise — January 31, 2023 — Edison, NJ — Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network, is proud to announce it's academic flagship hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Advanced Certification in Perinatal Care (ACPC) by demonstrating exceptional standards and outcomes in the care of infants and mothers. The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a health care organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care. 

“Hackensack Meridian Health is committed to delivering high-quality perinatal care and eliminating maternal health disparities in New Jersey and beyond,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This distinction from the Joint Commission for exemplary perinatal care is a testament to the top-notch team members, physicians and leadership at Hackensack University Medical Center and our ongoing collaboration with First Lady Tammy Murphy’s statewide awareness campaign, Nurture NJ, which is committed to making New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to give birth and raise a baby.”

At Hackensack University Medical Center, there were no maternal deaths in 2022.  The C-section rate continues to decline across Hackensack Meridian Health network.  Healthcare professionals at Hackensack Meridian Health are committed to the  work of addressing  racial and ethnic disparities by using data-driven strategies and focusing on improving cultural competency and reducing inherent bias. 

“I am thrilled to see Hackensack University Medical Center recognized with the prestigious Gold Seal of Approval for their outstanding and groundbreaking work in perinatal care,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Hackensack Meridian has been a steadfast partner to Nurture NJ in our shared mission to transform New Jersey’s maternal health landscape; now their work is not only leading the way for our state, but earning national acknowledgement as well. Working together, we are on our way to making New Jersey the gold standard of maternal care and the safest and most equitable state in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.”

The certification recognizes Hackensack University Medical Center’s efforts to achieve integrated, coordinated, and patient-centered prenatal through postpartum care, including both complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies. The certification uses standards, guidelines and The Joint Commission’s perinatal care measure set for managing and monitoring aspects of perinatal care that are critical to improving and maintaining the health of newborns and their mothers.

Hackensack University Medical Center underwent a rigorous, onsite review on January 23, 2023. During the visit, a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with related certification standards. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

“Hackensack University Medical Center is honored to earn this first-of-its-kind certification in perinatal care,” said Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack University Medical Center and president, North Region at Hackensack Meridian Health. “I am proud of our world-class team for exceeding standards when it comes to providing care for mothers and families. We will continue to lead the nation in excellence and are committed to continuing to improve maternal health outcomes for all.”

“Advanced Certification in Perinatal Care recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Deborah Ryan, MS, RN, interim executive vice president, Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “We commend Hackensack University Medical Center for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for newborns and their mothers.”

The teams at the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital were found to execute a multidisciplinary approach and patient-centered plan of care that aligns with the growing need for quality, compassionate obstetric care addressed with the ACPC. According to the Joint Commission, the top three reasons Hackensack University Medical Center achieved this certification are:

  • Improved efficiencies and outcomes
  • Reduced unwanted variations in care and improve the patient experience
  • Aligned communication and collaboration among all disciplines

Hackensack Meridian Health continues to set the standard for excellence in maternal health in the communities it serves. 

“No other part of our health care system has a greater effect on the health of our communities than maternity care,”said Manuel Alvarez, M.D., chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hackensack University Medical Center and Northern Regional chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology for Hackensack Meridian Health. “With this Advanced Certification, Hackensack University Medical Center has set the bar for appropriate obstetric care in the country, helping to ensure there is a multidisciplinary approach taken when developing a patient-centered plan of care utilizing evidence-based assessment tools.”

“Maternity care is deeply personal and every patient deserves specialized care best-suited for their needs,” said Abdulla Al-Khan, M.D., vice chairman and director of maternal-fetal medicine & surgery and The Center for Abnormal Placentation at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Meeting the aptly-set standards to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery is the primary goal of our teams. It is a privilege to serve our communities and continue providing accessible care that develops confidence with expecting and current mothers.”  On an important note, “this award would have not been possible without the dedication of the entire obstetrical team, especially  Jennifer Kopelman, MSN, RNC-OB, C-ONQS, NEA-BC, C-IAP, Nurse Manager of Labor and Delivery at Hackensack University Medical Center and Elizabeth, Polanco, MSN, RN, C-ONQS, administrative director of Nursing for Hackensack Meridian Health and all of the members from the regulatory department, who led the work that was done so this certification could be earned.  My gratitude to all of them,” stated Dr Al-Khan. 

Watch today’s announcement and First Tammy Murphy’s address here. Read more about the ACPC and Joint Commission here


Hackensack University Medical Center, a 781-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital, was Bergen County’s first hospital founded in 1888. It was also the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet®-recognized hospital for nursing excellence, receiving its sixth consecutive designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The academic flagship of the Hackensack Meridian Health network, Hackensack University Medical Center is Nationally-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report 2022-2023 in four specialties, more than any other hospital in New Jersey. The hospital is home to the state's only nationally-ranked Urology and Neurology & Neurosurgery programs, as well as the best Cardiology & Heart Surgery program. It also offers patients nationally-ranked Orthopedic care and one of the state’s premier Cancer Centers (John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center). Hackensack University Medical Center also ranked as High-Performing in conditions such as Acute Kidney Failure, Heart Attack (AMI), Heart Failure, Pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Diabetes and Stroke. As well as High Performing in procedures like Aortic Valve Surgery, Heart Bypass Surgery (CABG), Colon Cancer Surgery, Lung Cancer Surgery, Prostate Cancer Surgery, Hip Replacement and Knee Replacement. This award-winning care is provided on a campus that is home to facilities such as the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital and the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, ranked #1 in the state and top 20 in the Mid-Atlantic Region in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 Best Children’s Hospital Report. Additionally, the children’s nephrology program ranks in the top 50 in the United States. Hackensack University Medical Center is also home to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and is listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Our comprehensive clinical research portfolio includes studies focused on precision medicine, translational medicine, immunotherapy, cell therapy, and vaccine development. The hospital has embarked on the largest healthcare expansion project ever approved by the state: Construction of the Helena Theurer Pavilion, a 530,000-sq.-ft., nine-story building, which began in 2019. A $714.2 million endeavor, the pavilion is one the largest healthcare capital projects in New Jersey and will house 24 state-of-the-art operating rooms with intraoperative MRI capability, 50 ICU beds, and 175 medical/surgical beds including a 50 room Musculoskeletal Institute. 


Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. The network has 18 hospitals and more than 500 patient care locations, which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers, physician practice locations, and a fitness and wellness center. With more than 35,000 team members and 7,000 physicians, Hackensack Meridian Health is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy and committed to the health and well-being of communities throughout New Jersey. The network’s notable distinctions include having more U.S. News-ranked hospitals than any other health system in New Jersey, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 2022-23. Hackensack University Medical Center is nationally-ranked by U.S. News & World Report in four specialties, more than any other hospital in New Jersey. Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, are ranked #1 in the state and top 20 in the Mid-Atlantic Region by U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 Best Children’s Hospital Report. Additionally, their combined nephrology program ranks in the top 50 in the United States. To learn more, visit  


Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including hospitals and health care organizations that provide ambulatory and office-based surgery, behavioral health, home health care, laboratory and nursing care center services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.