As the shore community began to expand in the 1950s, residents believed that a local hospital to serve the community was vital. In 1955, local women formed the Southern Ocean County Hospital (SOCH) Auxiliary.

Tasked with raising 100% of the funds for a much-needed hospital, the Auxiliary Ways & Means committee, chaired by Ship Bottom resident Zena Josephson, teamed up with many volunteers to reach their goal of opening a non-for-profit hospital within the community. In 1972, after tireless fundraising efforts, Southern Ocean County Hospital was born. This same year, The Chrysanthemum Ball, the Hospital’s first annual gala, was established to create a source of funding for expansion and growth of new services and technology. Equipped with fifty-six beds and a staff of seventeen physicians, SOCH was prepared to care for the growing population.

Charitable donations have continued over the years thanks to the four auxiliaries of what is now Hackensack Meridian Southern Ocean Medical Center, including; the Boosters Auxiliary which operates the hospital gift shop, The Bird Cage; the Holly Auxiliary that operates a thrift shop in Waretown under the same name; the Laurel Auxiliary, which operates the Second Time Around thrift shop in Tuckerton; and the SOCH Auxiliary; which operates the Old and New Shop in Manahawkin.

Numerous investments to facilities and services brought new treatments and skilled expertise to the hospital and throughout the community. In 2010, SOCH became a member of the Meridian Health network of hospitals and services, enhancing access to a new level of care. The hospital’s new name: Southern Ocean Medical Center reflected its continued growth and advancements.

Rapid improvements further expanded when Meridian Health joined the Hackensack University Health Network in 2016, forming Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest, most comprehensive, integrated health network. This powerful alliance provides Southern Ocean Medical Center with additional resources to offer new treatments, technology, and expertise, with advanced care options available quickly through the connection with Hackensack Meridian Health.

“Southern Ocean Medical Center continues to serve as a place the community can turn to for outstanding, compassionate care,” said Michele Morrison, MPH, BSHA, RN, president, and chief hospital executive. “It is important for residents to know the hospital is prepared to take care of you now and in the future, for whatever your health care needs may be.”

Historical Timeline

Southern Ocean County Hospital opened in

1972 with fifty-six beds and a medical staff of seventeen physicians to care for the injured and ill.

The first annual gala, The Chrysanthemum Ball, was established to create an annual source of funding. $2 million was raised for expansion and growth of new services and technology.

The $3.5 million James Noble Pavilion was constructed, adding a second floor with another forty beds.

The $4 million Robert S. Irvin, M.D. Surgical Suite opened. The new Oncology Suite also opened to give residents the option to receive chemotherapy treatments close to home.

Another major construction project added the four-story patient tower, housing an intermediate care unit and two medical/surgical units.
The Southern Ocean Center for Health opened in Forked River, offering outpatient testing services and physician specialty practices.

A second Southern Ocean Center for Health opened in Little Egg Harbor.

The three-story Medical Arts Pavilion provided space for outpatient services such as renal dialysis, The Speech and Hearing Center and an ambulatory surgical center.

The ten-bed Maternity Suite opened to address women’s health needs and the growing number of deliveries in the community.

Southern Ocean County Hospital (SOCH) and a team of expert radiation oncologists worked together to open a high-tech radiation oncology program.

The hospital’s Western Expansion, also known as the James J. Mancini Pavilion, nearly doubled the size of the existing hospital facility. The 84,000 square foot additional included a twenty-bed Transitional Care Unit and a twelve-bed state-of-the art Intensive Care Unit.

The Ocean Club Fitness Center opened; also housing physical therapy and the Family Care Center.

SOCH becomes a member of the Meridian Health network of hospital and services, enhancing the level of care and service to the community.

The hospital’s new name, Southern Ocean Medical Center, reflects its growth and future direction in enhancing the level of care and service to the community.

Emergency Department expansion offers advanced 24/7 level of critical care and pediatric care center in a comfortable and healing environment.

Southern Ocean Medical Center becomes a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive health networks.

$16 million Cancer Center expansion and renovation project at Hackensack Meridian Southern Ocean Medical Center provides HOPE for patients close to home with a new infusion center, multidisciplinary suite, and radiation therapy suite.

$1.5 million investment of GE Innova IGS 540 angiography suite for interventional procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac and vascular disease.

$2 million investment in the da Vinci Xi Surgical System making robotics-assisted surgery a standard of care.
Received NJDOH licensing for full-service catheterization lab services to diagnose heart disease.

Plans underway for $21.3 million expansion and renovation of Surgical Services. Anticipated completion: 2025.

Mark your calendar for the 50th Anniversary community celebration on Saturday, September 10, 2022, from 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the campus of Southern Ocean Medical Center.

To learn more about Southern Ocean Medical Center, visit

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