Team Joey at AtlantiCare’s Mainland Campus.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – Providers and staff throughout AtlantiCare have focused on making special connections with patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They include Mainland Campus Progressive Care Unit team leader Samantha O’Brien, RN, BSN, of Mays Landing, and her colleagues. The unit was temporarily changed to be a respiratory care unit during the pandemic. It has cared for many patients who had COVID-19, including Joey Ortiz.

“We have glass windows that allow us to see into rooms from the nursing station,” said O’Brien who had recently recovered from COVID-19. “I could tell Joey seemed particularly lonely one day.”

O’Brien said she understood how Joey may have felt because she also experienced isolation.

“Since he was a person with Down syndrome, I knew it was hard for him to understand the visitor policy changes that we and other hospitals had temporarily implemented. I decided to draw some fun pictures on his window. He immediately brightened up,” she said.

Joey’s family members said they are grateful for how the team treated Joey and kept them connected with him and his caregivers, including through FaceTime.

“By the tone of his voice, I could tell he felt at home,” Joey’s sister Norma Ortiz said. “He was getting the attention that he wanted and he wasn’t scared. There was no fear in his voice. I knew that he was comfortable and taken care of.”

“Sam having just come out of being quarantined for COVID-19 herself, she was able to make a special connection with Joey,” PCU Clinical Manager Beth Tieri, RN said. “It was really heartwarming.”

O’Brien has worked at ARMC for nine years, first as a medical assistant, then as a patient care technician, before becoming a nurse.

“We’re used to caring for patients as if they are members of our own families,” she said. “It’s been  our privilege to take this care to a whole new level.”

For more information about AtlantiCare, call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000; visit; or find AtlantiCare on Facebook.


Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.