Anthony Berner, a telecommunications installation and maintenance technician, was experiencing an earache and pain when swallowing. Neither of these symptoms prepared him for the news that he had stage 4 head and neck cancer.
A biopsy showed the cancer originated at the base of his tongue, was associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) and had spread to four lymph nodes. Anthony, 53, turned to Southern Ocean Medical Center’s comprehensive Cancer Center.
A Team Approach
Southern Ocean head and neck oncology specialists, including medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists, formulated a customized, cutting-edge treatment plan for Anthony, orchestrated by his medical oncologist, Jatin Desani, M.D.
Surgery was ruled out because it would involve the removal of a section of Anthony’s tongue that affected speech and swallowing.
“To effectively eradicate Anthony’s cancer, we opted for IMRT (intensitymodulated radiation treatment), an advanced therapy that uses computerized 3-D images of the tumor to accurately deliver high-energy radiation, while sparing surrounding healthy tissues,” says Southern Ocean radiation oncologist Joseph Lattanzi, M.D.
Anthony received IMRT for seven weeks, Monday through Friday, for 20 minutes each day. To ensure that his tumor was pinpointed throughout his treatment, he had a computed tomography (CT) scan, an imaging method that creates “sliced” images of the body, before each IMRT session to measure how much his tumor had shrunk.
Anthony also received chemotherapy treatments as a two-step approach to eradicating his cancer cells. Because the therapies impacted his ability to eat and drink, he periodically visited Southern Ocean for intravenous infusions to prevent dehydration.
Showing Him the Way
Throughout his battle with head and neck cancer, Anthony was grateful for the support he received from the head and neck cancer team, especially his nurse navigator, Denise Theiler, RN. “We use a multidisciplinary team approach to guide head and neck cancer patients through the entire continuum of care, with input from speech therapists, nutritionists, nurse educators and swallowing experts,” says Dr. Lattanzi.
“At the beginning of my treatment, she gave me a customized booklet that outlined what appointments I had to do and which tests I had to take, which helped keep me organized and focused,” Anthony says.
Today, Anthony is working and gaining back the weight he lost during his treatments. He has periodic checkups and shows no evidence of head and neck cancer. He’s also back to his hobby of building fishing equipment. To show his appreciation to the Cancer Center, he raffled off one of his custom-made fishing hooks and donated the proceeds.
“I’m on my way to full recovery and am truly grateful for what the team at Southern Ocean did for me,” Anthony says. “Their expertise and heartfelt care meant a lot to me.”
It was a year of growth, engagement, and transformation at Southern Ocean Medical Center. Our goal to emerge as a high reliability organization was surpassed as the medical center reached new heights in patient safety and quality, garnering both national and state recognition. This was a result of the individual commitment and hard work of team members and the medical staff fully engaging in the key principals of safety, quality, empathy and respect.
We pride ourselves on working together to achieve common goals. In 2017, Southern Ocean Medical Center served over 76,000 outpatients, a 6.2% increase over the previous year due to the combined efforts of each team member. Our team’s dedication was evident in our high team member engagement score where 85% rated Southern Ocean a Great Place to Work®.
Key to our growth was the development of programs and the expansion of services through investments to facilities and enhanced medical expertise. Completion of our Cancer Center expansion project brought cutting edge treatments and advanced cancer care to residents of southern Ocean County.
I am proud of all we do and was especially honored that Southern Ocean was named finalist in the category of “Hospital of the Year” by NJBIZ, a testament to the hard work we do every day. Together we continue to make a strong impact in the community with participation in significant events like Chowderfest. Although Southern Ocean did not take home the Silver Plate for our “Manhackensack Meridian” chowder in the annual Cook-Off Classic, I am proud of our winning spirit and enthusiasm in support of community engagement.
I am pleased with the accomplishments we’ve achieved working together to deliver quality care, and we are committed to being on forefront of health care change. Our achievements are a direct result of our combined commitment and pursuit of exceptional patient care that demonstrate to ourselves and the community we serve that we are fully committed to providing the best possible health care experience.
Dean Q. Lin, MHA, MBA, FACHE, FCPP
Caring with the ‘A’ Team
Southern Ocean Medical Center reached new heights in quality and patient safety standards as they continued their journey as a high reliability organization (HRO). The AvaSys ® robot monitors patients and alerts care givers when a patient is leaving the bed. The technology has contributed to a 50% decrease in patient falls.
Southern Ocean Medical Center has also made significant strides in national and state initiatives for delivering the highest quality and safety in patient care. With the collective efforts and commitment of leaders and team members, Southern Ocean received an “A” rating for the second time this year from the nationally recognized Leapfrog Group, indicating the medical center has the highest safety standards in the country.
Also on the national level, Southern Ocean was one of five Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals to achieve Magnet® status. This was the first time the nursing teams achieved this distinguished honor and is evidence of the dedicated and compassionate caregivers who are at the core of the medical center’s success. Also this year, the medical center was named a finalist in the category of “Hospital of the Year” by NJBIZ. This acknowledgment was a tribute to our dedication to create a functional culture of safety that ensures zero patient harm.
Since we began our HRO journey, Southern Ocean continues to strive for robust quality improvement. We finished the year remaining CAUTI free since February 2016. And for the first time ever, we celebrated a four-star rating from CMS. These are great examples that demonstrate a commitment to being an HRO and establishing a fully functional culture of patient safety throughout the organization.
Since Southern Ocean began their HRO journey, team members strive for robust quality improvement and finished the year remaining CAUTI free since February 2016. And for the first time ever, Southern Ocean celebrated a four-star rating from CMS. These are great examples that demonstrate a commitment being an HRO and establishing a fully functional culture of patient safety throughout the organization.
Significant investments in programs and services have been made at Southern Ocean Medical Center that brought new treatments, advanced procedures and skilled expertise to southern Ocean County. Critical to our expansion of services were the 59 sub-specialists and specialists and 23 allied health professionals who joined our medical team to broaden the scope of specialized expertise and access to services.
Investing in the Future
The completion of the new Cancer Center, an investment of more than $20 million, offers a new level of medical expertise and advanced technology in the community. Our multidisciplinary oncology team at Southern Ocean Medical Center sees the most patients in the region and has expanded expertise with the addition of fellowship-trained breast and thoracic surgeons, and a hematologist/oncologist to provide comprehensive oncologic services in one convenient location.
Our team of specialists has access to specialized diagnostic capabilities and advanced radiation delivery systems such as IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Treatment) and the TrueBeam™ linear accelerator to treat a full range of disease areas including breast, gastrointestinal, melanoma, prostate, thoracic and gynecologic oncology.
Further expansion in technology provided improvements in diagnostic imaging services. A 128 slice CT scanner increases the number and scope of procedures offered, and a new fluoroscopy room features a digital Fluoroscopy unit.
The final stage of renovations at Southern Ocean Medical Center was a complete facelift to Southern Ocean’s lobby and surrounding areas that welcomes patients and visitors alike in a modern, inviting environment.
Recognition of quality and excellence from industry leaders and third-party endorsements go a long way to earn the patient’s trusts and challenges us to be the best we can. Notable recognitions this year included the Get with the Guidelines® Stroke Gold plus Award which exemplifies twenty-four consecutive months of high performance in applying the most up-to-date treatment guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes.
Southern Ocean was the recipient of the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. As a designated ACS-MBSA QIP Comprehensive Center by the American College of Surgeons, Southern Ocean has one of the most comprehensive quality bariatric surgery programs in the region performing more than 600 surgeries annually.
Dean Q. Lin, MHA, MBA, FACHE, FCPP
Regional President, Hackensack Meridian Health
Regina M. Foley, PhD, MBA, RN
Chief Operating Officer
Micki Patrick, RN, MSN, NEA-BC
Vice President & Chief Nursing Executive
Theodore G. Zaleski, M.D., J.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Michele Morrison, RN, BSHA, MPH
Senior Manager, Operations
William Schreiber, MBA, MSN, RN-BC
Senior Manager, Patient Care Services
Medical Staff Leadership
Shikhar Soni, M.D.
James F. Orlando, M.D.
Joseph Schirripa, M.D.
Paul Mastrokyriakos, D.O.
Member at Large