Newswise — Neptune, NJ, August 4, 2020…  United Hospital Fund (UHF) honored Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Residency Program Director for Obstetrics & Gynecology Noelle M. Aikman, M.D., FACOG, of Brick, NJ, as a quality improvement leader during its second annual Tribute to Excellence in Health Care event in July.  The tribute recognized 63 extraordinary leaders at 57 hospital systems, long-term care facilities, home care organizations, and independent practice associations across the metropolitan region, recognizing their personal efforts to champion quality of care, patient safety, and the patient experience.

Dr. Aikman was specifically recognized for her work to reduce surgical cesarean (C-section) births at the academic medical center.  Compared to natural births, C-section births carry an increased risk of infection, blood clots, longer recovery, and difficulty with future pregnancies for moms.  The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization and advocate of data transparency in health care, recommends no more than 23.9 percent of first-time mothers deliver via C-section.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s rate of C-sections stood at 30.7 percent in 2017.  The medical center’s leadership team committed to reducing that rate.  Through Dr. Aikman’s leadership, the medical center’s primary C-section rate (rate for first-time mothers) declined to 23.4 percent in 2019.  “Change of this magnitude requires a team effort, and Dr. Aikman was instrumental in establishing a culture less reliant on surgical births,” said Scott W. Smilen, M.D., FACOG, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, Jersey Shore University Medical Center.  “She led a multifaceted plan that included team education, data transparency, thorough review of patient cases, engaging our providers and reinforcing key guidelines.”    

Each of the honorees received the Excellence in Health Care Award at a virtual online event, held in lieu of the traditional luncheon due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Over 400 health care professionals, community leaders, and supporters registered to view the event. 

“I’m pleased Dr. Aikman received this award acknowledging her outstanding efforts, and happy our obstetrics and gynecology team continues to provide the most advanced maternal care and women’s health services in the region,” said Vito Buccellato, MPA, LNHA, chief hospital executive, Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“During this unique and challenging time, these quality leaders and their vital efforts to make our health care system more patient-centered, safe, and effective are more important than ever,” said UHF president Anthony Shih, M.D. “Today’s honorees are extraordinary individuals who have distinguished themselves for their tireless work drive improvements across the full continuum of patient care.”

The Tribute is supported by TD Bank, and funds donated through the TD Charitable Foundation for this Tribute will support UHF’s Quality Institute, which works to improve the quality, patient experience, and efficiency of health care delivery Cary Kravet, a member of UHF’s board and a trustee of Northwell Health is the event chair.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center was named to Newsweek’s 2020 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals in July 2020.  The distinction recognizes facilities that have excelled in providing care to mothers, newborns, and their families, as verified by the 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Survey.  The medical center has received five consecutive ‘A’ hospital safety grades from The Leapfrog Group.  For more information, visit




About United Hospital Fund

United Hospital Fund works to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker. An independent, nonprofit organization, we analyze public policy to inform decision-makers, find common ground among diverse stakeholders, and develop and support innovative programs that improve the quality, accessibility, affordability, and experience of patient care. For more on our initiatives and programs, please visit our website at and follow us on Twitter.



Located in Neptune, New Jersey, Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center is a not-for-profit teaching hospital and the only Level II Trauma and Level II Pediatric Trauma Center in Monmouth and Ocean counties. It is home to K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital – the first children’s hospital in Monmouth and Ocean counties. With more than 1,200 physicians and dental staff in 60 specialty areas, Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s team provides quality care in a patient-centered, environmentally-friendly setting.

The team’s commitment to excellence has earned Jersey Shore University Medical Center numerous accolades, including being named the #5 top hospital in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report for 2019-2020. The medical center’s clinical research program and longstanding commitment to medical education is evident through an affiliation with Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University and a new affiliation with St. George’s University School of Medicine. Jersey Shore University Medical Center serves as an academic center dedicated to advancing medical knowledge, training future physicians and providing the community with access to promising medical breakthroughs.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s programs and services have received numerous national recognitions, including designation as high-performing in cardiac, stroke, surgical and oncology services.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s HOPE Tower – a $265 million 10-story medical office building provides a new healing outpatient experience. Guided by a patient-centered approach towards care, and informed by the latest medical breakthroughs, HOPE Tower includes advanced imaging services, a clinical academic center, innovative simulation laboratory, state-of-the-art amphitheater, specialty physician offices, a nine-level parking garage, and a 58,000 square foot cancer facility. The new cancer facility features a range of comprehensive treatment options, including surgical specialties, medical oncology, and the most advanced radiation therapy and minimally invasive interventional therapies. Nurse navigators guide patients through every step and provide an extra layer of support and coordination.