Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy Program

in Memory of Eric Dellenbach

Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy Program

in Memory of Eric Dellenbach

Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, JMMF recognized and aligned with health experts that correctly predicted that mental health issues would be the next wave of the pandemic. While isolation, quarantine and “stay at home” orders were hard on the general population, our healthcare workers suffered even greater trauma while treating patients under arduous conditions, resulting in a dramatic spike in mental health issues including anxiety, depression (MDD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), nightmares, flashbacks, mental and emotional burnout and suicidal ideation – the same symptoms we regularly witness from combat veterans involved in war.

Jimmy Miller Foundation Surf Therapy logo circle x 100 px

The scenes were horrific…overcrowded hospitals with patients lying in hallways strapped to machines and limited ventilators, short supply of PPE, doctors and nurses having to decide who received the diminishing supply of equipment and medicine – and thus having to decide between who lived and who died, often being the last person to hold their hand as patients passed away because families were not allowed in the hospitals. Their duties included excruciating long hours with little rest and extended exposure to the deadly virus. Healthcare workers were not equipped or trained to work in these extreme conditions, and now they are suffering from a variety of mental health issues.

Surf Therapy - woman surfing

When we launched the Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy Program in the fall of 2021 in partnership with Torrance Memorial Medical Center, the need was great, and the response was even greater. We conducted five pilot sessions which were supported by a grant from Beach Cities Health District.  Amazingly, a self-sustaining support group was created by the participants to continue meeting to talk about their struggles and surf together! Inspired by their dedication and care for our community, JMMF expanded our programming to offer twelve Ocean Therapy sessions in 2022 and invited healthcare workers from Providence Healthcare’s Little Company of Mary Hospital to join our sessions. We also conducted a special Ocean Therapy session with the doctors and nurses from the ER department of Ventura Community Memorial Hospital at the famous Hollister Ranch. JMMF plans to continue to expand our Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy programming into Orange and Ventura counties and in other regions as resources allow.

In Memory of Eric Dellenbach

JMMF’s Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy Program was named in memory of Eric Dellenbach, a close childhood friend of Jimmy’s and an amazing surfer like Jimmy. Eric worked in Healthcare and most recently was the Director of Heart and Vascular Unit at Providence Hospital in Everett, WA. In the winter of 2021, Eric contracted COVID-19, bacterial and viral pneumonia and the combination ravaged his lungs. He was placed in a medically-induced coma for four months and given less than a 1% chance of survival. He was on life support and a ventilator because his lungs were so badly damaged, and his only hope was a double lung transplant. Miraculously, a match donor was identified and Eric received a double lung transplant at UC San Francisco Medical Center and he survived the 20-hour surgery. While he gradually recovered and was released for at-home Physical Therapy, Eric’s new lungs were re-infected by bacteria and after nine months in the hospital under constant care, Eric succumbed to his complications in November 2021. Because of his childhood friendship with Jimmy, his incredible surfing talent, his dedication to serving others in Healthcare and the amazing care provided by all the healthcare teams throughout his ordeal, we have named the Healthcare Workers Ocean Therapy Program in his honor.

We Currently Work With:

Torrance Memorial Medical Center

Providence Little Company of Mary

Community Memorial Healthcare

Upcoming Sessions

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