When Jersey Shore University Medical Center began its expansion project, it found that the Neptune community had its back.Literally.
The majority of the expansion took place on the northern end of the hospital campus, which backs up to the Neptune High School property.Hospital officials have nothing but praise for the district’s cooperation with the project – and school officials have nothing but support for the expansion.
“We had the partnership of the community to help us with this project – in particular, the school district,” said Jersey Shore University Medical Center president Steven G. Littleson.“They made it smoother, more cost effective.They helped us build this expansion.”
The cooperation was nothing new, said Neptune School Superintendent David A. Mooij.“We definitely have a good neighbor policy with Jersey Shore,” he said. “We have a great partnership, through many projects over the years.They have helped the school district in many ways, and we’ve been able to return the favor.”
The high school offered several existing tennis courts to the hospital for the location of its new early childhood center, and in return, the hospital helped build five new tennis courts for the high school, Mooij said.
The school district also lent the hospital some property to use as a parking lot for staff and physicians while Jersey Shore’s new parking garage was being built.“If they had not done that we would have had to bus team members from an off-site location.It saved us a lot of time and money,” Littleson said.
Mooij said when the high school gave up part of its field for the hospital parking, the high school lost part of a soccer field.So Jersey Shore assisted the school in the construction of a synthetic field in the middle of the high school’s all-weather track.“Now we have a field that can take constant play from our soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams – and we would not have had that without Jersey Shore,” said Richard Allen, principal, Neptune High School.
When the expansion project was in its design stages, Jersey Shore officials were “extremely conscientious” about keeping residents and officials alike informed of its plans, Neptune Township Administrator Philip D. Huhn said.“Jersey Shore has always been very, very cooperative with the township.They have to be credited with seeking out a lot of input from the community on this project.”
Littleson said that every effort was made during the expansion design process to communicate plans with township officials and residents, particularly The Gables community, which is also adjacent to the hospital campus.
“We talked with residents in the design process and we listened to their concerns and tried to address them,” Littleson said.“We worked with neighbors and community to get their input.It was all very positive.”The Gables community ultimately endorsed the expansion, as did the Shark River Cleanup Coalition, which approved the hospital’s stormwater disposal plans from the construction areas.
Huhn noted that Jersey Shore, with more than 3,000 employees, is the township’s largest employer.“We are very excited about the expansion opening, because it means more staff, more support jobs opening up,” Huhn said.“Especially in this economy, that’s fantastic news for the community.”
Jersey Shore, the township and the school district are partnering in another effort in the MidTown Commons redevelopment project on West Lake Avenue in Neptune.Jersey Shore’s Booker Family Health Center, which sees about 30,000 under served patients annually, will relocate from the hospital to the MidTown Commons.
Relocating the family health center to the MidTown project will be more convenient for many patients, and Jersey Shore will be better able to expand the facility at that location, Littleson said.Meanwhile, the area that once housed the family health center will be used to also expand outpatient services.
Mooij spoke glowingly of the current mentoring project Jersey Shore is sponsoring with Neptune High School, that began this past December with 13 students.
“They go there twice a week.And have observed a cardiac catheterization procedure and trauma drill,” Mooij said.“It’s been just a wonderful learning experience for them.”
“It’s just another example of the partnership the school district has with Jersey Shore,” Mooij said.