MONOC, the provider of advanced life support paramedic services throughout Ocean County, will cease operations April 1, but services are planning to be seamlessly transferred to two hospital ownership groups.
All of Ocean County’s local hospitals are operated by either Hackensack-Meridian Health (Ocean Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center) or RWJBarnabas Health (Community Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, formerly Kimball Medical Center), both of which will take over advanced life support and mobile intensive care unit duties in April.
In New Jersey, rescuers who respond to calls for medical assistance are categorized in two ways: basic life support, which usually consists of volunteer squads or those run by local police department, and advanced life support, which is staffed by paid and specially-trained paramedics. For decades, all of the paramedics worked for MONOC.
Recent news of the switch has generated a flurry of calls to officials, mainly the county sheriff’s office, on how the transfer will work.
“We have scheduled meetings with these hospitals to review concerns such as dispatch protocol, response coverage and other areas,” Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said. “The Sheriff’s Office is committed to making this a smooth transition of advanced life support services in order to protect our residents.”
When a person calls 911 in Ocean County, they are always connected to dispatchers at the county sheriff’s department in Toms River. From there, they are either transferred to a local police dispatcher or, in some towns, the county dispatcher handles the entire call under a shared services agreement. Brick Township utilizes its own dispatchers.
“It’s important that any new protocols are closely reviewed and everyone works together for the benefit of our residents and visitors,” Freeholder Jack Kelly said.
The staff will not appear to be changing, sources said. The two companies will simply be taking over administrative responsibility for the operation, which was formally known as Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corp.
“With such a large county and with the largest senior population in the state, it’s important concerns are addressed before the new providers take over the service,” Mastronardy said. “My office and our Emergency Management staff look forward to a productive dialogue with the new providers in order to assure our residents they will be taken care of during medical emergencies.”
MONOC also operates MONOC-1, one of the state’s few medevac helicopters. It was unknown exactly which organization would be maintaining that piece of equipment, however the region’s only trauma center, Jersey Shore, is owned by Hackensack-Meridian.
Brick Township, specifically, has expressed an interest in operating its own advanced life support units if a pending bill becomes law in New Jersey.