Residents, first responders salute staff members at Bayshore Medical Center

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The Flag of the United States is held up above healthcare workers coming in and out of Bayshore Medical Center during a gathering of support at the hospital by first responders and residents from communities in Monmouth County on April 14. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Matawan firefighter Vincent Negron waves a Flag of the United State atop a fire truck, while first responders and residents from around Monmouth County gather to show their support to healthcare workers at Bayshore Medical Center for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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The Flag of the United States is held up above healthcare workers coming in and out of Bayshore Medical Center during a gathering of support at the hospital by first responders and residents from communities in Monmouth County on April 14. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Matawan firefighter Vincent Negron waves a Flag of the United State atop a fire truck, while first responders and residents from around Monmouth County gather to show their support to healthcare workers at Bayshore Medical Center for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Residents and first responders from Monmouth County’s Bayshore region came together on the evening of April 14 to show their respect, love, appreciation and admiration to the doctors, nurses and staff members at Bayshore Medical Center, Holmdel, and to recognize those individuals’ hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and other emergency vehicles filled a parking lot at the hospital as first responders and residents from Holmdel, Keyport, Union Beach, Hazlet, Matawan and Aberdeen Township came in waves for a 6:30 p.m. salute to healthcare workers who were heading home after a 12-hour shift or arriving for work.

First responders formed two lines in front of a hospital entrance and the employees walked through the space as a U.S. flag flew high above them, supported by a pair of fire trucks. Those entering and leaving the building received a standing ovation from the attendees.

To salutes from the first responders and cheers from residents who held signs stating their appreciation and respect, the hospital employees displayed a range of emotions from happiness to tears of joy upon seeing the support.

“Bayshore Medical Center is so grateful for the incredible support we have received from our community and especially for such an amazing show of support from hundreds of first responders from the towns we serve. The show of solidarity for our nurses, doctors and all of our team members left many of them speechless. We could not work in a greater community,” Chief Hospital Executive Frank Ciatra said.

Holmdel Police Department Detective Eric Hernando took the lead in coordinating the event.

Hernando is Holmdel’s emergency management coordinator and is in constant contact with the hospital. He said he understands the hard work the healthcare employees have been putting in on a daily basis during the pandemic.

“They are on the front lines and I felt they needed to see support from our first responders,” Hernando said.

Hernando, who is also the deputy chief of the Holmdel Township Fire Department, used his connections to create a chain of people who reached out to first responders in towns that are near the hospital.

All of the first responders and residents who attended the event were required to wear masks and gloves, and to observe social distancing guidelines.

As he ran from one spot to another during the event, Hernando was happy to see the reactions on the faces of the employees as they entered or left the hospital.

“The best part was the reactions on the nurses’ faces as they walked in,” he said. I remember seeing one nurse cry as she walked by. That made it all worth it.”

Many government officials were in attendance, including state Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth).

DiMaso, who is a member of the Holmdel Township First Aid Squad and chairs the Bayshore Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, said the gathering was exactly what the hospital employees and the first responders needed right now.

“It was extremely moving from both sides,” DiMaso said. “To see the tears in the eyes of each healthcare worker as they walked in and out of the hospital meant a lot. All of us needed that 45 minutes to come together as a community and that’s what will help us get through these tough times.”

Bayshore Medical Center has been receiving donations of food from Alana Marinello, who is the owner/operator of McDonald’s, Route 35, Hazlet, during the pandemic.

Marinello has been an operator at McDonald’s since 2013 and wanted to show her appreciation for the hard work and selfless dedication the hospital employees have been providing during the health crisis.

“We are proud to support our community at Bayshore Medical Center by donating meals to our healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Marinello said. “We appreciate all the hard work they are doing to keep us safe and healthy.”