Serving as an inspiration to his pediatric patients battling obesity
Long Branch, N.J.--While physicians everywhere help to safeguard the lives of their patients, one pediatric endocrinologist from The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center has taken the role of lifeguard literally. Thirty-four-year-old Mike Barrows, DO, has been a Jersey Shore life guard since the age of fifteen, making well over one hundred rescues during his summer duty, which he continues on a part time basis at Sea Girt, NJ, even as a practicing physician.
In addition to water rescues, Dr. Barrows has assisted beachgoers who have been injured, experienced febrile seizures, gone into diabetic shock, and other medical emergencies. His years as a lifeguard helped to shape Dr. Barrow’s interest in medicine.
“You are helping people in need of assistance on the beach and I see a connection between that and my medical pursuits,” he relates. “They both involve serving the community and providing protection.”
This past year Dr. Barrows won the American Ironman event at the United States Lifeguarding Association’s (USLA) National Lifeguard Championships, which were held in Huntington Beach, CA. This event involves a quarter mile swim, a third of a mile board paddling, half a mile of rowing, with quarter mile runs between each activity. In previous years he collected three national titles in swim and surf rescue events. He is planning on competing at his 10th nationals this summer in Myrtle Beach, SC as a member of the Monmouth County team. Lifeguards from Florida, California, Australia, and Hawaii compete at this event.
A Positive Message for Young Patients
At The Center for Disorders of Insulin and Metabolism, Dr. Barrows and Center director Malcolm Schwartz, D.O., and pediatric endocrinologist Kirk Kerensky, M.D., work to provide a blame-free, supportive environment to help obese children and their families adopt healthier lifestyles. It is a multidisciplinary team consisting of the three physicians, a nurse practitioner, certified nutritionist, diabetes educators, social worker, and child psychologist.
Dr. Barrows recently diagnosed and treated an obese eleven-year-old boy with type 2 diabetes. The boy weighed 280 lbs at the time of diagnosis and had uncontrolled diabetes. Within one year, through medical management, proper diet, and an individualized exercise plan, the boy lost 80 lbs and no longer had the condition.
Sometimes, before Dr. Barrows meets a patient, the nurse practicitioner will share some details of his lifeguarding accomplishments with the youngster. Return patients ask Dr. Barrows about his time on the beach and next competition. Several have expressed interest in joining junior lifeguard programs.
“The kids really do follow my competitions and seem to be motivated by it,” he says. “I think it is important to practice what you preach. We are asking these children to exercise four to five times per week and they are smart enough to identify that there is no hypocrisy in this recommendation on my behalf. They see that even an adult who is working and busy can find the time to be disciplined and exercise.”
For his training, Dr. Barrows swims five to six times a week for up to two hours per day, as well as cross-training with rowing , paddling, surf-skiing, and running. To accommodate his hectic schedule, exercise is sometimes done at 4:30 a.m. or after work.
“Dr. Barrows is an inspiration to all of our pediatric patients,” related Margaret C. Fisher, M.D., FAAP, Medical Director of The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center. “A healthy body facilitates a healthy mind, and anything that motivates children to exercise is a positive at a time of skyrocketing pediatric obesity rates nationally.”
How to Save a Life
Most memorable of his days on the beach was a dramatic rescue made with another lifeguard at Sea Girt Beach just after their shift had ended for the day. At 5:30 p.m. a family of six, two parents and four children, entered the water and were soon caught in a riptide current.
After calling to the next beach for assistance, Dr. Barrows swam out with a landline and gathered three of them with the torpedo, while holding a fourth child with his free arm. The other lifeguard secured the other two swimmers and other lifeguards on the beach pulled Dr. Barrows and the family members attached to the line to shore.
“It was a successful rescue, thankfully,” he recalls. “The family was very appreciative.”
The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center
More than 130 pediatricians are affiliated with the Monmouth Medical Center’s pediatric attending staff; and more than half are subspecialty trained. Through its Specialized Pediatric Ambulatory Center, The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center has extensive subspecialty outpatient services for children with chronic illnesses such as thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, neurological disorders, asthma and other respiratory problems.
For more information about The Center for Disorders of Insulin and Metabolism, please call Monmouth Medical Center at (732) 923-6085.
CONTACT: Beth Salamon
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