The New Jersey State Supreme Court decided Wednesday that it would not hear an appeal Valley and Englewood hospitals filed after the state health commissioner allowed Hackensack University Medical Center to file a certificate of need application for a new general hospital in Westwood.
Valley and Englewood hospitals have opposed an additional acute care option in Bergen County, saying since the closing of Pascack Valley Hospital, their facilities have absorbed the volume of patients. They have also asserted opening a new hospital would negatively impact the healthcare system in the county.
Valley Hospital in Ridgewood plans to take additional legal action if the application is ultimately approved.
"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 healthcare 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," Spokeswoman Megan Fraser said in a statement. "Valley has long been proud to care for patients who reside in the Pascack Valley area and we look forward to continuing to do so for years to come."
Representatives of Englewood Hospital also expressed disappointment.
"We are disappointed that the New Jersey Supreme Court has denied our appeal. Englewood Hospital and Medical Center maintains that since the closure of Pascack Valley Hospital, the non-profit hospitals in Bergen County have successfully served our community's healthcare needs with a level of quality and responsiveness never before experienced," said Englewood Hospital Spokeswoman Maria Margiotta in a statement. "There are better uses for the Westwood property, such as a medical mall with a range of outpatient services, to meet the healthcare needs of our region. We will continue to strive for the right solution in the rational planning of our region's healthcare needs."
But HUMC officials see it differently, saying Pascack and Northern Valley residents need a hospital and are not adequately served currently.
"Along with overwhelming community support, HUMC's application strongly demonstrates the need for the proposed 128-bed, acute care community hospital in Westwood," HUMC President and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Garrett said in a statement.
The medical center along with partner LHP Hospital Group, a privately owned hospital company based in Texas. According to the application, HUMC North would serve 14 municipalities in the northeastern corner of Bergen County as well as some Rockland County communities and would open in late 2012.
Garrett said the Supreme Court's action shows the application has merit.
"This decision validates Hackensack University Medical Center’s confidence in the legal soundness of the application process, and remains focused on opening Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley to best serve the healthcare needs of the residents of the Pascack Valley and Northern Valley regions," he said in a statement.
The review process on the certificate of need application is expected to conclude around Aug. 6.