Trouble scorns vacation Vacationers may flee daily woes only to discover the holiday variety

April 25, 1993|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,Staff Writer

While summer vacationers may hope for respite from their daily troubles at home, Ocean City is gearing up to deal with their possible troubles at the beach -- from broken bones to flat tires.

New on the scene this year is a full-scale hospital just minutes from the resort. Construction of Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin should be completed by the end of the month, and the hospital is expected to open before Memorial Day. Previously, vacationers had to travel 30 miles to Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury.

There are also several private medical centers in Ocean City that are prepared to handle most medical problems.

"People on vacation act a little crazier," says Dr. Victor Gong, director of the 75th Street Medical Center in Ocean City. "If people take an ounce of prevention, they can save their vacation instead of being a vacation warrior."

Although Dr. Gong says his practice sees a number of summer-related maladies such as jellyfish stings, bug bites and sunburn, the most common complaints are sore throats and minor ear infections.

David Collins, director of emergency services in Ocean City, says the most preventable summertime ailment is dehydration. "People don't take enough fluids [while on the beach], and then they go into air conditioning and pass out," he says.

Mr. Collins, who oversees the town's paramedics, says his staff of 24 grows to 34 during the peak summer months to meet demand, and four or five fire stations are kept open 24 hours a day.

He looks forward to the opening of Atlantic General, especially for vacationers who rely on their health insurance to pay for treatment. He says the private medical centers in town only accept payment by cash, check or credit card.

But some insurers will not pay for medical treatments that could be performed in a doctor's office, warns William Donatelli, At

lantic General Hospital's president. If the insurance company refuses to pay the bill, he says, "financial responsibility may fall back to the patient."

Chiropractors here also see their share of summer-related business.

Dr. Paul Conway of 63rd Street Chiropractic often sees what he calls "post-tension syndrome." He attributes it to the tension of packing up the family for the trip. "They go to the beach and lie on their back, and then they can't get up," he says of sufferers.

He also sees a number of serious injuries each summer from children who dive off bay-side piers into shallow water. "At low tide, it could only be about a foot deep," Dr. Conway cautions.

Summertime dental emergencies often occur when people trip and fall on rocks or lose control of their bicycles, breaking their teeth, says Dr. Dennis L. Alban, who has an Ocean City dental practice at 139th Street and Coastal Highway.

And sometimes people lose their dentures in the surf. When that happens, he says, dentists can make a temporary set of teeth in a couple of days.

What can you do about that searing toothache in the middle of the night? Not much, Dr. Alban says. If over-the-counter pain relievers aren't helping, you may have to endure an uncomfortable night until the dentist's office opens in the morning.

Or you might try calling around. Dr. Alban says several of the dentists in town live near their offices and can help summer visitors with dental emergencies outside regular office hours.

Getting prescriptions filled at the beach is no problem, but if you leave home without your medications, it isn't always easy for pharmacists to track down the doctor or for the pharmacy to verify the prescription. And even if they do find out, you may need to pay the total cost of a replacement prescription, since some pharmacists do not accept every prescription plan.

One pharmacy does provide an extra service; it rents wheelchairs to vacationers who had been unable to squeeze one into their car alongside the beach chairs and luggage. Tim Ingraham, a pharmacist at Farlow's Pharmacy in Berlin, says his shop normally keeps two rental wheelchairs during the winter months and increases the number to 12 during the summer.

The Ocean City Police Department is in the process of boosting its summer staff to 275, from its winter staffing of 108. For emergencies such as traffic accidents with personal injuries or crimes and assaults in progress, police can be reached by calling 911.

To report less urgent problems such as property damage and excessive noise, the police ask that people call its service number: (410) 289-5459.

One thing the police won't do is unlock car doors. If that happens, call a locksmith or garage, says police Lt. Kevin Kirstein.

Car problems, unfortunately, don't take a vacation at the beach. Russell Savage, manager of Anderson's Exxon Service in Ocean City, can tick off a variety of troubles. "[Vacationers] get flat tires, lock their keys in the car, leave their lights on and then their battery goes dead," he says.

Mr. Savage says he can also count on towing a healthy crop of illegally parked cars to the Ocean City impound lot. If your illegally parked car ends up missing, call the police and they can tell you whether it's at the storage lot. Be forewarned: Impounding fees start at $75.

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