By Danielle Beurteaux
In the U.S., 28,000 babies die in their first year of life,
20,000 in the first month. America ranked 29th in international
infant mortality in 2005. "We still lag behind all industrial
countries except the UK," says Andrew Rabinowitz. "We still
have three times the infant mortality of our Asian
Do we really put child health care at a
Rabinowitz is out to change those statistics. Rabinowitz,
40, partner and chief operating officer of the $10 billion New
York hedge fund firm Marathon Asset Management, is the
co-founder, with his wife, Phyllis, of R Baby Foundation. They
started R Baby in 2006 after they lost their nine-day-old
daughter, Rebecca Ava, to a common viral infection that is
easily treatable if detected but potentially deadly if not.
Their local hospital dismissed their daughter's illness as a
cold and the couple as neurotic first-time parents, says
Rabinowitz. They founded R Baby initially to address the
treatment of infant viral infections and have since expanded
its mission to improving health care for children.
To mark its fifth anniversary, R Baby is holding a
fundraiser and awareness event this March at the Plaza Hotel in
New York. The keynote speaker will be Barclays CEO Bob Diamond.
R Baby has raised almost $5 million since its inception and
given grants to some of the country's best medical institutions
to help develop pediatric health and training programs, such as
POISE (Patient Outcomes in Simulation Education) at the Yale
School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. POISE uses
simulators - patient proxies that can cost $500 to $50,000
apiece - to help new residents and more experienced doctors
practice procedures before treating a live baby.
"Thanks to the great work at Yale and other hospitals,
mistakes made by doctors who graduate the program are cut by 50
percent over a three-year period," says Rabinowitz.
Dr. Marc Auerbach, co-director and co-founder of POISE, says
R Baby has also been supportive with ideas. "I've been amazed
by how passionate Andrew and Phyllis are about R Baby," says
Auerbach. "Each year they put more and more in." R Baby has
also expanded, with chapters opened in Maryland and Colorado in
2007 and one opening soon in Washington state. A grant to the
University of Maryland Hospital for Children has funded the
creation of the first state blood library. Named after the
Rabinowitzes' late daughter, the laboratory stores viral
infections that affect children, enabling doctors to quickly
match virus strands.
"Doctors get the information faster, and it's available to
the entire state of Maryland," says Rabinowitz.
While child mortality rates have improved slightly in the
U.S., there's still a shortage of pediatric emergency
providers. Only 6 percent of hospitals nationwide have
full-time pediatric emergency centers, according to the
Institutes of Medicine. Asks Rabinowitz, "Do we really put
child health care at a premium?"