TOMS RIVER, NJ, JULY 22, 2008 – Two drivers, Joe Doyle and Bill Browne, handle the pickups and often provide some emotional support for the patients.
Donations from the Community Medical Center Foundation helped purchase the van used to transport the patients.
Patients who have no other way to make their appointments should call a social worker at 732 557-8270 to make arrangements.
Transport driver Joe Doyle of Berkeley pushes Frank Bari of Toms River into Community Medical Center, Toms River, for his radiation treatment. (STAFF PHOTO: SHAWN HUBER)
When Frank Bari learned that he had pancreatic cancer in May, he was shocked but not surprised. Three family members had died of cancer through the years, and Bari sensed that some day he, too, would be afflicted by the horrible disease.
"When they say you have cancer, sometimes it's a death sentence," said Bari, 75. "But so far, I have been lucky."
Bari said his luck includes a transport service provided by Community Medical Center in Toms River. The hospital sends a vehicle to pick up and transport radiation and oncology patients for their treatments for free. Bari said the service is a godsend for patients like himself, who can't drive and require radiation treatments five days a week, and chemotherapy one day.
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"I really don't know what I would do without this (service)," said Bari, 75, as he traveled in a van to the hospital last week. "Everyone treats me so wonderfully that I remain optimistic that I will beat this thing. The doctors are great, the radiation therapists are wonderful and Joe, I just love."
Joe is Joe Doyle, one of two drivers employed by the hospital to pick up patients each day. The service is available throughout Ocean County and runs from 7:30 a.m. until approximately 7 p.m. Bill Browne handles the morning shift, and Doyle is in charge of the afternoon duties.
Doyle has become much more than a driver for the ailing patients. He befriends them, listens to their problems and sometimes finds himself playing the role of psychologist.
"My position is I am providing a great service for these people," said Doyle, a Berkeley resident. "They are really grateful because they have no other way to get here. In most cases, the husband is ill and the wife is ill. It is a double whammy.
"They look forward to seeing me, and I look forward to seeing them," Doyle went on. "When I first took the job 18 months ago, my first feeling was that everyone is going to be depressed. But it really hasn't turned out that way. They have all been pretty positive. They say, "I want to make it. I fight this every step of the way.' "
Bari said he gets a lot of emotional support from his wife, Jessie Elizabeth, and has maintained a positive attitude throughout the experience. He has been a resident of Toms River for the past 18 years, after retiring as a superintendent for New York Transit Authority.
"I get those (radiation) beams shot into my chest five days a week and, you know, it's really not that bad," Bari said. "I am 75 years old and some people never make it that long, so I am grateful. I have gone through a lot in my life and made it through two very bad car accidents, so someone appears to be looking over me. When my time comes and God comes to get me, I'll be ready. I have lived a full life, and I have no regrets."
Contact: Kristine A. Brown
Director of Public Relations
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