Summer is the busy season for NJ hospitals, urgent cares at the shore
Pick a random day during the winter and you'll find a resident population of about 95,000 throughout Cape May County. During the summer months, the regular count of residents could be as high as 700,000.
That means the odds of a medical emergency are essentially multiplied by seven for several weeks.
Just as shore restaurants and shops prepare for summer crowds, hospitals and other medical-care facilities along New Jersey's coast have to make sure they're ready to handle the annual influx of summer visitors.
There are injuries related to summer fun that you wouldn't see in January or February in New Jersey, and the higher incidence of maladies such as heart attacks and sicknesses that correlates with a larger pool of residents.
"We definitely flex up in terms of our ability to staff doctors, mid-level providers, nurses, medical assistants," said Dr. Richard Massone, associate medical director for AtlantiCare's urgent care centers.
Patient volume at the centers jumps by about a third during the summer months, Massone said.
"We see a lot of sunburn and dehydration and heatstroke," Massone said. "Splinters are a huge one, jellyfish stings."
Facilities by the coast also deal with injuries related to surfing — some are so severe, Massone said, they may be better served in a hospital's emergency department.
Hospitals down the shore are accustomed to having an annual busy season. But, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association, there's another factor at play during summer 2021 that could contribute to even greater volume as the Garden State continues its crawl out of the coronavirus pandemic.
"People who may have delayed care during the pandemic are returning to take care of those appointments and procedures – and that’s a good thing," said NJHA spokesperson Kerry McKean Kelly.
Diane Wieland, director of tourism for Cape May County, said local emergency rooms tend to see the biggest summer spike in activity. On average, the county gets more than 10 million summer visitors.
"The local hospitals, Cape Regional and Shore (Medical), recognize and address the increase with more staffing and expanded hours for urgent cares," Wieland said.