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Raritan Bay Medical Center celebrates life

Theresa, left, and Robert Donnelly visit Raritan Bay Medical Center every year to wish team members well and thank them on the anniversary of his discharge from the ICU 11 years ago.PHOTO COURTESY OF RARITAN BAY MEDICAL CENTER
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Theresa, left, and Robert Donnelly visit Raritan Bay Medical Center every year to wish team members well and thank them on the anniversary of his discharge from the ICU 11 years ago.PHOTO COURTESY OF RARITAN BAY MEDICAL CENTER

Former patients and their families, team members and hospital administrators recently gathered for Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center’s second annual Celebration of Life event held at the Monarch at Woodbridge.

More than 55 people attended the luncheon celebrating the remarkable strength and extraordinary courage of patients, and their families, who received care in the hospital’s intensive and coronary care units.

“Our Celebration of Life event is an opportunity to honor the life of each patient, or the memory of a loved one who has passed, who we have been privileged to have provided care at Raritan Bay,” said Manager of Patient- and Family-Centered Care Dawn Wright-Stuart, who organized the luncheon with the hospital’s Celebration of Life committee.

Theresa and Robert Donnelly and their daughter, Wendy, attended. Robert and Theresa, who now live in Milford, New York, visit Raritan Bay every year to wish team members well and thank them on the anniversary of his discharge from the ICU 11 years ago. At the time, Robert suffered from heat stroke, was taken to Raritan Bay’s emergency department, and there had a seizure which led to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Robert spent the next six days in the ICU where he credits his nurses and doctors with saving his life more than once.

“This was obviously a life-changing experience and I am forever grateful to the nurses in particular who cared for me and made sure I survived. I think about them every day and the least I can do is to reinforce my deep gratitude by visiting and sharing the events in my life they allowed me to be part of, including two weddings and births of five grandchildren,” Robert said. “The event was excellent and served as a reminder of how important the work of the ICU nurse is and how many lives they effect. I found it inspiring, and hope it was rewarding for the staff as well.”

Celebration of Life is championed by Raritan Bay’s Medical Director of Critical Care L. Chadrick Chua, M.D., as a time of renewal and remembrance, focusing on five “Rs,” including recognition, re-connection with patient and families, reminder for caregivers of their purpose, renewal of spirit, and to re-energize.

Hackensack Meridian Health Director of Spiritual Care Reverend David Cotton provided inspirational words for attendees as he discussed steps to ensure living a life that “blossoms” in the face of adversity. Other speakers included Raritan Bay’s Alissa Holman, M.D., Vice President of Operations and Raritan Bay Old Bridge Site Executive William DiStanislao, Senior Director of Nursing Debra Mahoney, R.N., Intensive Care Unit Manager Linda Lopazanski, R.N., and patients’ families.

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