As HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley prepares for its opening this spring, hospital officials have been reaching out to the community to keep residents informed and get feedback.
The hospital is hosting a Community Leadership Group made up of representatives from the towns around the area. The group will serve as a means of communication between the hospital and the communities it serves, Melton said. The group held its first meeting earlier this month.
"My goal is to be as open as absolutely possible," Melton said.
There are more than 20 members of the group, including local community leaders and representatives from various businesses, according to hospital spokeswoman Lauren Zaccardi Samman.
From their first meeting, Melton said he wanted to quell concerns that leadership group members presented, namely that those who cannot pay would be turned away.
"It doesn't matter if you don't have the ability to pay or if you have the best insurance, we're going to treat all patients the same," Melton said.
The group is also going to send six community members to join six physicians on the hospital's board of trustees, which will hold its first meeting in April as the hospital nears its opening date.
Melton said he expects the hospital to receive its license that month and that they will take their first patient June 1.
As another way of opening to the public, a former cafe off the hospital's lobby is being converted into a community conference center, which will be available to local organizations to use for free.
"I'm a big believer that you have to involve the community in everything you do," Melton said.