While no one knows what the landscape of health care will look like in three years, Hackensack University Medical Center President and CEO Bob Garrett does know “emergency and trauma services will always be required, no matter what reform.”
Garrett was part of a groundbreaking Thursday afternoon at the Hackensack campus for an expansion and renovation of the hospital’s trauma and emergency center. The $35 million project is expected to take until 2015 to complete in order to accommodate the current structure and allow for services to continue during the project.
Garrett said the expansion turns the Level 1 trauma center into a more regional facility that will be able to greater serve the expanding Hackensack network, which now includes Mountainside Hospital, Hackensack UMC at Pascack Valley and an affiliation with Palisades Medical Center. The recent addition of a medical helicopter — which completed 19 patient transports in its first month of operations — also allows the expanded center to better serve a wider footprint.
Joseph Sanzari, construction executive and chair of the Hackensack UMC board of trustees, was also on hand Thursday. Sanzari committed $1 million in financing and in-kind services to the expansion project.
The trauma and emergency center will consist of all private rooms, including several “pods” for specific services: trauma, cancer, cardiology, pediatrics and geriatrics. Each pod will be staffed with providers trained in that specialty. Garrett said the pod system will help patients receive the correct care the quickest, and reduce the number of times a patient has to be transferred within departments.
Dr. Joseph Feldman, chair of the emergency medicine department, said he’d been imagining an expanded trauma center since the day he arrived on campus 15 years ago. Feldman said he expects the new center to allow the emergency department to expand volume beyond the 6 percent increase the hospital saw last year.
During the ceremony, Feldman thanked Garrett for “not making me wait another 15 years” for the project to get off the ground.