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
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?"