TUESDAY JULY 13, 2010
Even on vacation, healthcare can’t be taken for granted. I was reminded of that on a recent beach weekend “down the Shore.”
My family and I had taken a long weekend in Cape May. I spent much of that Friday on the beach with my 10-year-old son. While reading is my preferred beach activity, I ended up in the ocean with my son, riding the waves and generally being spun around like I was inside a blender. The tide was very strong and we were swept down the beach often. To get back to our starting point we would leave the ocean and walk down the beach, back to where our umbrella was located. But once, as we left the water, I spotted a middle-aged man who was staggering. He sat down in a couple inches of surf, and I asked him if he needed help. At first he declined, but then when he tried to get up and couldn’t, he asked me to get his wife and told me her name. It was a scary moment, and I ran up and down the beaching yelling her name. Aside from a couple puzzled looks, no one responded, so I asked the lifeguard for help. It was only a matter of minutes, but by the time I returned to the stricken man, a good Samaritan was already at his side offering assistance. I’m not sure if that compassionate woman was a nurse or a physician, but she clearly was a healthcare professional with years of training backed by a strong commitment to service. I watched her as she took control of the situation, assessing the man’s vital signs and calmly reassuring the man and his wife (who by that point had been located, fortunately.) The lifeguard called an ambulance and the situation was well in hand. The crowd dissipated and my son pulled me back into the waves.
I don’t know who that caring person was who stepped up to help a stranger, but she could be any one of the thousands of dedicated healthcare professionals who work in New Jersey. And it’s not just physicians and nurses who care for our state. Our hospitals employ 145,000 individuals statewide – nurses and physicians, along with technicians, clerical workers, dietary staff, housekeepers and a much longer list of workers who keep our hospitals running 24/7/365. In my book, every one of those individuals are heroes, and I sure was glad one was on hand on the beach in Cape May.