Hackensack University Medical Center‘s application to reopen Pascack Valley Hospital, in Westwood, as a 128-bed community hospital, now has the green light to go before the state Department of Health and Senior Services, following the state Supreme Court’s refusal Wednesday to consider a lower court’s rejection of a legal challenge by two Bergen County hospitals seeking to block the new hospital.
Hackensack UMC CEO Robert Garrett said he is very pleased with the decision. The state Health Planning Board will consider the application in November, and Garrett looks to conduct a $39.6 million renovation and open the hospital by the end of 2012.
Richard Freeman, hired in June as CEO of the proposed hospital, HUMC at Pascack Valley, “is meeting with the medical community — physicians who were with the former Pascack Valley hospital and other doctors who are interested in joining,” Garrett said. Freeman is also meeting with HUMC doctors: “The overflow of patients (from Hackensack UMC) will go to Pascack Valley, so he is getting acquainted with our physicians. He’s also putting the final touches on the facility planning — so he’s really getting his feet wet.”
Valley Hospital, in Ridgewood, which alongside Englewood Hospital and Medical Center sued to block the Health Department’s decision earlier this year to issue a “call” for a new hospital in Bergen, said in a statement, “While we are disappointed with the court’s decision, Valley will continue to seek every opportunity to show that an additional hospital is not needed in Bergen County, and will harm existing hospitals while destabilizing health care in our region. If, at the end of this process, the state grants Hackensack a certificate of need, we will once again pursue our case in court.”
In a statement, Englewood elaborated, and said, “Since the closure of Pascack Valley Hospital, the nonprofit hospitals in Bergen County have successfully served our community’s health care needs with a level of quality and responsiveness never before experienced. … There are better uses for the Westwood property, such as a medical mall with a range of outpatient services, to meet the health care needs of our region.”
Garrett said the court’s decision “absolutely validates the legal soundness of the certificate of need process. We are very anxious to make our strong case to the state. We will be demonstrating that not only is there not a surplus of beds, but there will be a shortage of beds by 2015” in Bergen County.
He said the “the support from the community remains strong, from the physicians, residents, elected officials, ambulance squads — the support is strong and has intensified.”