Jersey Shore ER nurse swam to work immediately after Hurricane Sandy

(NY Daily News) How far would you go to get work?  One dedicated ER nurse actually swam to her job during Superstorm Sandy, paddling about 200 yards, or two blocks, from her Toms River apartment to the highway.

“You know you just have to be there,” Marsha Hedgepeth told the Asbury Park Press. “You’re never going to have enough staff in a state of emergency.”

Hedgepeth was scheduled to start her shift at 3 p.m. on Oct. 30, after the height of the massive storm. Her apartment lost power, her neighborhood flooded and cell service went out. The 43-year-old nurse made a firm decision that she was going to find her way to work at Community Medical Center, whatever it took.

“We are the first responders. The tougher the circumstances is when you do come to work,” she said.

Swam_2_1120Hedgepeth wrapped her phone and blue work scrubs in a plastic A&P grocery bag, dressed in jeans, sneakers, a scarf, hat and gloves, and she prepared for what she knew it would be a dirty and trying swim.

Hedgepeth, a surfer who is quite comfortable in the water, steadily stroked through the swell for what she estimated was about 30 minutes until she reached Route 37 and could finally stand instead of swim.

Then she hitched a ride.

“I’m soaking wet, I’m in denim, and all of a sudden I stick out my thumb,” Hedgepeth told the Asbury Park Press.

“I knew once I was there (at work) I could clean up and get to work. If my area was that bad, I knew over the bridge” — in Seaside Heights — “it was 10 times worse. I knew they’d be coming there to the hospital,” she said.

She was greeted with a hero’s welcome at work but she quickly focused on the task at hand — caring for patients in one of the busiest ER’s in New Jersey.