In 2007, Pascack Valley Hospital closed after going bankrupt. Now, it’s set to come back on June 1 transformed as the Hackensack University Medical Center in Pascack Valley. Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor spoke with HUMC President and CEO Robert Garrett about the new facility.
The June 1 opening will mark the first time in 30 years a hospital will reopen as a new hospital, said Garrett.
“It’s a full-service community hospital, 128 beds, offering all private patient rooms,” he said. “[We’re] making all the necessary preparations and hiring the staff and we will be totally ready by June 1.
The newly-renovated hospital will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and will house six operating rooms and a cardiac catheterization lab,” Garrett said.
Physician interest in the hospital is very strong, according to Garrett. He said that he’s already received over 600 physician applications for privileges at the hospital.
Blaming poor management decisions made in the the early 2000s for the closing of Pascack Valley Hospital, Garrett said the new hospital has been “right-sized” for the needs of the community with 128 beds as opposed to the 291 that Pascack Valley Hospital had.
Garrett also noted that the new hospital was made possible by a joint venture that partners HUMC with a for-profit company based in Dallas, Texas, which he said brings the best of both worlds.
“The for-profit brings the necessary capital that they can invest into the community, into the hospital, and the not-for-profit like Hackensack, which has a very strong quality reputation, we bring our quality standards,” he explained. “We also bring a lot of influence at the governance level to make sure that our name, our brand is protected and the community is very well served.”
Speaking of hospital governance, Garrett added that fifty percent of the board will be made up of physicians.
“They’re gonna be heavily represented on every committee,” he said. “So every decision, every policy that’s passed will have a lot of physicians’ input.”
Like all health care providers in New Jersey, HUMC is bracing for change since Gov. Christie announced the expansion of the Medicaid program in his budget address.
“I think it’s about 110,000 additional New Jerseyans [who] will be eligible for health care. I think that’s a great thing,” he estimated.
The biggest concern Garrett has about the expansion relates to the shortage of primary care physicians in the state.
“The question will be, ‘Where will these patients be seen, will they have access to primary care physicians?’? he asked. “If they use the hospital emergency room as their primary care physician, that’s not really the best place to receive that kind of care, certainly not the most efficient way to receive care. So I’m looking forward to the expansion of the Medicaid program but I do have concerns because of that physician shortage.”