Tent City Get’s Donation From Ocean County Doctors
As the cold weather approaches, physicians from Ocean County will be paying a visit to Lakewood’s Tent City to donate boxes of winter clothes and medical supplies to its residents.
On Wednesday members of the Ocean County Medical Society will be delivering fifteen boxes filled with blankets, winter coats, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Additionally a community first aid kit put together from donations from members will also be delivered.
OCMS Executive Director Cathy Johnson says their organization has been wanting to do something, but were limited in what could be done.
In conjunction with the OCMS’ efforts, the Medical Society of New Jersey is providing all 85 residents with discount prescription cards, which can be used to get a discount on prescriptions.
Johnson says during this time of year residents living in Tent City are especially prone to flu type symptoms, pneumonia, and other cold related illnesses. She notes in conversations she’s had with Tent City leader Rev. Steven Brigham, residents who get sick go to the emergency rooms for care but often cannot afford to pay for the prescription medications. Johnson hopes the discount cards, which covers as much as 50% of the costs, will be useful.
Tent City is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Lakewood Township and Ocean County over their right to use the land. However Johnson notes their actions aren’t meant to “take sides” or be a political statement.
“We’re completely neutral; our only concern is the health of the residents there.”
Johnson admits living in Tent City and being exposed to the elements could cause health issues beyond the scope of warm clothes or a basic first aid kit, however she notes that it’s a starting point for them to try and help.
“Unfortunately, the most we can do at this point is just help them in the current situation that they’re in.”
She notes that while some may accuse the organization of enabling Tent City, she points out the residents would be, and have been, there regardless so it’s the OCMS’s goal to try and provide them with whatever care they can.
“They’re there, I don’t think they’d be there if they could be somewhere else.”
Johnson, who hasn’t been to the encampment off Cedar Bridge Road, says this first visit will also let physicians assess the 85 person population of Tent City and dictate future efforts.
“Exactly who are the people that are there? Are they single men are their families? We don’t really know. Once we’re there and we can take a look around and change what we do in the future.”