Southern Ocean Medical Center Joe Coyle (L) and Martin Truex Jr. (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ)


Martin Truex, JR. Pediatric Care Center at Southern Ocean Medical Center (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ)

In return, hospital officials dubbed it the Martin Truex, Jr. Pediatric Care Center, and the speedster cut the ribbon Wednesday in his hometown.

"I couldn't be prouder," Truex said. "It means a lot to my family, and it means a lot to my foundation.

The $3,000,000 Pediatric Care Center within Southern Ocean’s new Emergency Department offers a highly-enhanced space for children and families needing medical help, for routine procedures as well as for emergencies.

Joseph P. Coyle, president of Southern Ocean Medical Center, credits Truex for maintaining his Jersey Shore roots. “Martin has maintained strong ties with his hometown community," said Coyle, "and we are truly grateful for his support and dedication to our medical center and the children who live in Ocean county.”

The upgrades mean that the newly-expanded Emergency Department keeps a pediatrician on site eight hours a day each Monday through Friday, and 12 hours each Saturday and Sunday - determined by hospital assessments of the heaviest juvenile traffic for emergency aid.

Among its features are six private rooms, private consultation quarters, convalescent accomodations, and space for overnight observation not just for youngsters, but for parents or guardians who stay the night as well.

Inside the Martin Truex, Jr. Pediatric Care Center (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ)

Additionally, Southern Ocean Medical Center's affiliation with the Meridian Pediatric Network links it to the K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, staffed with more than 100 specialists.

"I'm speechless, frankly," Truex remarked. "I feel very fortunate to be able to do it...A lot of work has been put in over the last seven years, raising money to give to good causes, and this is certainly one that stacks up near the top of things we've been proud of doing."

Southern Ocean's new emergency facility is the largest project of its kind ever undertaken at the facility. It encompasses 29,000 square feet of space, triple its former size, with 42 patient stalls. Officials estimate that more than 40,000 patients trod its hallways in 2012, and they anticipate that number to reach 55,000 by 2020.

It also contains discreet and secure areas for behavioral health patients, expanded triage,designated "fast-track" space for priority cases, and upgraded radiology units.
In addition to Southern Ocean and Jersey Shore, Meridian also encompasses  Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel.