Jersey Shore University Medical Center began as a 50-bed convalescent home for women and children, on land donated in 1904 by Mrs. Albionia N. Whartenby in Spring Lake. By 1932, the hospital had grown to 150 beds and had found a new benefactor – Abram Edward Fitkin, a successful businessman who helped build the hospital at its present site, in return for it being named after his son, Raleigh Fitkin.
In 1966, Fitkin Hospital became Jersey Shore Medical Center – Fitkin Hospital. Some long-term area residents still refer to it as Fitkin.
Jersey Shore University Medical Center now serves a two-county area with a population of about 1.8 million. The hospital is the first stop for emergency care for nearly 65,000 people a year, including areas residents and children, as well as summer visitors. The hospital is the region’s only Level II Trauma Center, and also serves as the area’s state designated children’s hospital – K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital – as well as the region’s only cardiac surgery center and comprehensive stroke center.
“For over 100 years, Jersey Shore has been a part of the lives of countless individuals and families throughout our community,” says John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president of Meridian Health. “And, throughout that history, there have been critical moments of change to meet the evolving needs of this community. This transformation is truly changing the way we will deliver on our mission for the next 100 years.”
The expansion of the Emergency Department created the largest, most well-equipped ER in the region, prepared to meet the community’s growing needs and handle any emergency, from newborns to adults. These improvements will help reduce lengthy wait times.
Improvements to the Trauma Center will benefit the more than 1,200 critically injured patients the unit treats annually. It is now configured so that elevators go straight up to the rooftop helipad and patients can be brought straight down to the trauma unit. Patients used to be shuttled from the helipad to the unit via ambulance.
The new three-story diagnostic and treatment facility offers state-of-the-art surgery suites, cardiac catheterization labs, and a robotic laboratory. Enhanced radiology, pharmacy, laboratory, and imaging areas will equally transform the outpatient experience.
But the emphasis of the expansion remains patient care. “We paid attention to the details to get it right,” Littleson said. A detail such as where to put the sink in a patient’s room got plenty of thought.
“Usually, nurses wash their hands with their backs to the patient. We positioned sinks on the corner of the countertop, so that nurses can wash their hands facing the patient, allowing them to talk to them as they are washing up,” Littleson said.
Throughout the addition, colors and lighting are soothing, and the floors are carpeted to reduce noise. A new food service caters to patients’ individual needs, and a new information system lets patients research their condition, access their e-mail, surf the Internet or watch a movie, all from their hospital bed.
“Over the years, we’ve learned that the environment of a hospital contributes to the recovery and well-being of the patients as well as to the mind-set and spirit of those who deliver the care,” Littleson said. “It is this philosophy that serves as the cornerstone of Jersey Shore’s transformation – distinguishing our hospital as one that has been specially designed to promote the well-being of both patients and team members.”