• Press Release

Helmsley Charitable Trust Awards Mount Sinai $2 Million to Expand Community-Based Doula Program for Women Who Are Homeless and Incarcerated

  • New York, NY
  • (May 23, 2023)

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced a $2 million, three-year grant for the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to work with NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Queens to expand a community-based doula program. The program will focus on providing doula care to pregnant people experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, and those who are incarcerated, two populations that often face some of the highest health needs and complications.

The Helmsley grant will support community-engaged planning, implementation, and evaluation of full-spectrum birth-related doula services. These efforts will build upon the “HoPE” Program (the Helping Promote Birth Equity Through Community-Based Doula Care Program) to expand access to doula care within the public healthcare system in Queens and mitigate maternal and infant health disparities, particularly for people of color. Under the leadership of Dr. Sheela Maru, MD, MPH, HoPE launched at Elmhurst and Queens hospitals in early 2022, in collaboration with two doula organizations, Ancient Song Doula Services and Caribbean Women’s Health Association.

“With the support from Helmsley, we can better assist our community members who have historically faced disproportionately high adverse childhood experiences, chronic health challenges, limited support during the critical perinatal period, and poor maternal and child health outcomes. Community-based doula care offers us a way to change this trajectory,” said Dr. Maru, a NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst attending physician and Assistant Professor of Global Health and Health Systems Design, and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“Right now, New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or incarceration are twice as likely as their housed peers to experience negative birth outcomes,” said Tracy Perrizo, Program Officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s New York City Program. “At Helmsley, we look for solutions that reduce barriers to care for those with complex needs and limited access to quality services. Expanding doula services for those who are sheltered or incarcerated can improve birth experiences. With continued support from doulas who understand their challenges and needs, we are optimistic that this program can enhance participants’ overall engagement with healthcare and promote long-term well-being for themselves and their children.”

The community-engaged planning for the program has begun and services are expected to launch later this year. Evaluation of the initiative will examine health metrics for both babies and birthing parents; doula care and healthcare utilization; and demographic impacts to help determine the effectiveness and feasibility of further expanding tailored doula services across New York City.

The HoPE Program is part of a larger effort known as the New York City Partnership, a collaboration between the Arnhold Institute and NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Queens founded in 2018. The two health systems also have a long-standing service and training relationship.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust 

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning its active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3.5 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s New York City Program works to improve the lives of New Yorkers with multiple, chronic health needs. Since the Program’s first grant in 2014, Helmsley has awarded more than $42 million in grants to organizations across the city. To learn more, visit helmsleytrust.org.

About NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.