Ocean County, New Jersey, the second largest county in the state and consists of 638-square miles of pine barrens and barrier islands and a 45-mile coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. In 2009, Ocean County was among New Jersey’s fastest growing counties, home to an estimated 573,678 residents according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county is popular among retirees with 22.2%; Ocean County is ranked the highest in New Jersey for the percentage of people age 65 or older.
New Jersey’s ratio of primary care doctors to patients is 36 percent below the national average; this is of particular concern to Ocean County’s older population. A recent study by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals (NJCTH) has warned of a shortage of doctors in New Jersey. The NJCTH also states an estimated 98,000 deaths occur annually from preventable hospital mistakes or mishaps.
Toms River, a village located within Toms River Township, is the county seat for Ocean County. Toms River is centrally located within Ocean County and the County Complex is less than two miles off the Garden State Parkway. The Ocean County Courthouse, built in 1850, is the most impressive building in town. The Greek Revival Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and the courthouse, as part of the modern County Complex and Justice Center, continues to serve Ocean County residents.
Located only 50 miles east of Philadelphia and 70 miles south of New York City, Ocean County is a prime seashore destination for residents of these cities during the summer, especially the oceanfront boardwalk resorts of Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant Beach. Tourism has traditionally been a key factor in the county’s economy, but the health care industry has been the fastest growing employment sector and is now the top employer in the county.
The Ocean Medical Center, a 241-bed acute care hospital in Brick, New Jersey has served the county since 1984. The hospital is part of Meridian Health Systems, which also operates several hospitals in Monmouth County. There can be enormous quality differences between one hospital and another as well as between one doctor and another. Patient safety ratings reflect the quality of care at a hospital by measuring how well the hospital prevents potentially avoidable complications. Healthgrades gives the Ocean Medical Center their best rating in two important patient safety categories including the prevention of death in procedures where mortality is usually very low.
As with the entire Jersey Shore, summer traffic routinely clogs local roadways throughout Ocean County. Major routes that pass through are U.S. Route 9, the Garden State Parkway, and Interstate 195. Interstate 195 provides Ocean County residents direct access to the major employment areas of Trenton to the west and Monmouth County to the northeast.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, sixty-three people were fatally injured in vehicle crashes in Ocean County during 2009. Fifteen fatalities occurred as the result of vehicle accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and fifteen pedestrians were killed as a result of vehicle accidents. When a severe personal injury or death occurs as a result of an Ocean County vehicle accident, the victim’s family also suffers, with emotional and economic burdens that may last for years afterward.
The structure of New Jersey’s court system is among the most simple in the nation. The state has only the following types of courts: Municipal courts, Tax Court, state Superior Court, which includes the trial courts, an Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court. The trial court in Ocean County is held at the Ocean County Courthouse, 118 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ 08754. Both criminal and civil cases are heard at the trial court level. Typical civil cases involve contracts, personal injury, automobile accidents, employment and discrimination cases.