STAFFORD – What better way for a medical center with humble beginnings to celebrate the community than a good old-fashioned carnival?
Organizers of Southern Ocean Medical Center’s 50th-anniversary festival outdid themselves with last week’s outdoor Family Fun Day. Participants enjoyed everything from food to boardwalk-style games to face painting, bouncy houses, a dunk tank, and more.
The festivities came at no cost to attendees – other than hopes that bright smiles would add to the beautiful sunny day. Just about every face met the planned expectations as children and adults alike took advantage of great times.
A costumed stilt-walker stood at least a dozen feet above the crowd and engaged a group of kids by turning one end of a jump rope. He got his groove on with some carnival dancers and brought out hula hoops to get people moving even more.
Two young girls alternated turns in a dunk tank as onlookers tossed balls to send them splashing.
Dozens of people lined up to sit for sketch artists to take home caricatures as keepsakes of the day. Children took advantage of numerous shots at amusement games that would otherwise cost their families a fortune to participate. They all seemed pleased with candy rewards once they made their marks.
Hospital personnel wandered out to the event still garbed in scrubs and face masks. The medical center’s appreciation for the community’s support in the last 50 years served equally as a tribute to their collaborative efforts.
Michele Morrison, Chief Executive Officer of Southern Ocean Medical Center, appeared at the anniversary carnival in casual summer attire and blended in with the rest of the attendees. Morrison was there to watch others enjoy the community celebration.
Southern Ocean Medical Center has come a long way since it first opened with 56 beds and a total of just 17 staff members. Known for years as Southern Ocean Medical Hospital or SOCH, many thought of it as just the local community hospital.
Meanwhile, the facility’s association with Hackensack Meridian Health has contributed to the medical center’s growth and reputation. The current bed count at the hospital has risen to 176 beds, with more than 400 physicians and 1,000 team members providing patient care.
In an interview before the 50th anniversary outdoor celebration, Morrison shared further details concerning how Southern Ocean Medical intends to recognize the facility’s golden anniversary further.
“We took pictures from the last 50 years and had them made into a big ‘Five Zero,’” said Morrison. “We are putting it in our lobby and our team member cafeteria so our team members can sign on the back.”
While 50 years represents a lifetime, at least one Southern Ocean Medical Center employee has been around to watch the facility’s growth.
“Pat Muszynski has been with us for 48 years,” Morrison shared. “She is a registered nurse by training and works in our Office of Patient Experience.”