Southern Ocean Medical Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Community Celebration

Southern Ocean Medical Center (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

MANAHAWKIN Hackensack Meridian Southern Ocean Medical Center is celebrating 50 years of service to the community on Saturday, September 10 with a free Family Fun Day. Taking place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the medical center’s campus, located at 1140 Route 72 West in Manahawkin, the community is invited to join the festivities, which will include: an array of food, beverages, games, music and activities such as Pop-A-Shots, air hockey, foosball, dunk tank, face painting, Whack-A-Mole, caricaturist, prize skill crane, giant lawn games and more. 

“We are excited to invite the community to celebrate our 50th anniversary with us,” says Michele Morrison, MPH, BSHA, RN, president and chief hospital executive, Southern Ocean Medical Center. “The community helped us to open this hospital in 1972 with just 56 beds and a medical staff of 17. It’s only fitting that they join us in celebration now as a 176-bed, award-winning medical center with more than 400 physicians and 1,000 dedicated team members. The medical center continues to grow exponentially, but at our heart, caring for our community – our family – is our number one goal and we want to give thanks for their faith in us over the years by celebrating together!”

Beginning in the 1950s, the shore community began to expand, driving local residents to call for a community hospital to care for their needs. A group of local women joined forces to create the Southern Ocean County Hospital (SOCH) Auxiliary, which was tasked with raising 100% of the funds. Thanks to the support of many volunteers, years of fundraising, the donation of land by the Shapiro family and Long Beach Township mayor, Ocean County freeholder and Assemblyman James Mancini fighting for it in Trenton, Southern Ocean County Hospital was opened in 1972. 

Throughout the years, philanthropy has continued to aid in the growth of what is now known as Southern Ocean Medical Center, contributing nearly $50 million in funding and supporting such projects as the Cancer Center, Maternity, the Emergency Department, outpatient and urgent care facilities and more.

The original SOCH Auxiliary continues to support the medical center and now operates the “Old and New Shop” in Manahawkin. Three other auxiliaries were also born and provide funding for the medical center through thrift and gift shops. The Boosters Auxiliary operates the hospital gift shop, “The Bird Cage”; the Holly Auxiliary runs a thrift shop under that same name in Waretown; and the Laurel Auxiliary operates the “Second Time Around” thrift shop in Tuckerton. The auxiliaries’ latest commitment, a $2.5 million pledge, enabled the medical center to purchase innovative  equipment to perform da Vinci® robotic surgeries. A previous gift supported the purchase of the latest cancer treatment technology at the facility. 

“Philanthropy has played a vital role in the growth of Southern Ocean Medical Center and continues to do so in the present day,” says Deborah Mathis Sundermann, chair, Hackensack Meridian Southern Ocean Medical Center Foundation. “As the population of southern Ocean County continues to rapidly increase, so too must our services. And while the Hackensack Meridian Health network continues to reinvest in the medical center to meet these needs, philanthropy helps to fill the gap and allow enhancements that may not be provided for with the allocated budget. We rely on community support and are grateful for all those who have been with us from the very beginning and to our new friends who are partnering with us now.”

As Southern Ocean Medical Center turns its sights to the future, surgical expansion is on the horizon. The medical center is currently embarking on a project to renovate pre- and post- surgical suites in order to accommodate the latest in surgical technology. This expansion will mean less wait times for patients needing surgery, state-of-the-art equipment to help minimize recovery times and the recruitment of new surgeons to care for the community, to name a few benefits.

“We have accomplished so much in 50 years and there is so much to look forward to,” Morrison continues. “I would like to thank the community for your trust, your partnership and your support over the years. We could not, and cannot, do it without you.”

The rain date for the 50th Anniversary Celebration is Sunday, September 11.

To register, please visit To make a gift in support of Southern Ocean Medical Center’s 50th Anniversary, please visit