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Gov. Christie Praises Westwood Hospital's Reopening

The governor visited HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley, which is set to open June 1.

Gov. Chris Christie visited Westwood Thursday for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley. 

Christie praised the hospital's officials for their work and State Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd for ultimately approving the hospital last year. HUMC at Pascack Valley was the first hospital to receive a license from New Jersey in almost 30 years.

"I'm thrilled that this is happening and we can be part of it together," Christie said.

Christie and other officials also credited members of the community for their support in reopening the former Pascack Valley Hospital, which closed in 2007 at the same site. Christie said he gave his support to the new hospital because people in the region needed it.

"It's all about the people who will be served," he said.

After the Pascack Valley Hospital closed, HUMC operated paramedic service around the Pascack Valley and began running an emergency room at the defunct hospital. The paramedics have served more than 17,000 patients and the E.R. has seen more than 50,000, according to HUMC CEO Robert Garrett. 

During that time, the state held numerous hearings about the plan from HUMC and their partner, the Texas-based company LHP, to reopen the hospital. The hearings attracted crowds of hundreds of supporters, and thousands signed petitions urging officials to approve the plan.

O'Dowd said that the residents' advocacy was "clearly heard in Trenton."

The hospital's approval faced opposition from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and the Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, who appealed O'Dowd's decision in court. A three-judge panel upheld the approval.

Christie had previously visited the closed hospital during his first campaign for governor. At the time, he had pledged to do what he could to reopen it. Christie joked Thursday that the August day was "the hottest damn day of the campaign."

"I thought Gerry Cardinale was going to melt," Christie said.

HUMC at Pascack Valley is set to reopen June 1. Garrett thanked Christie for his help. 

"Thank you, governor, for making this dream become a reality," Garrett said.

Christie also visited Westwood last year to formally announce the state's approval.

Since receiving their approval, renovations have been underway to make the hospital "state of the art," Garrett said. More than $147 million has been invested in the upgrades to the building and equipment, according to LHP CEO and President Dan Moen.

"We see this joint venture as a great opportunity to invest in this community and New Jersey," Moen said.

Moen pointed to tax dollars as one of several benefits the hospital will bring to the community besides medical care. HUMC at Pascack Valley CEO Chad Melton also noted that they have hired hundreds of employees — about 40 of whom were previously unemployed — and plan to have nearly 500 people working at the hospital by the end of the year.

HUMC at Pascack Valley will begin accepting patients at 12:01 a.m. June 1.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Local321 May 23, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Thank you Mayor Birkner!
21st century concerned citizen May 23, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Thank you Governor Christie
LivinLocal May 25, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Thank you Birkner? His contribution was what? As a union president did he bring back union jobs? There were many individuals who contributed. All I remember about him was his highlighting the closeness of Valley Hospital. The collective public is to be thanked for their involvement at meetings, sending letters to the health department, getting there voices heard. The various area municipal officials collectively made supportive noise at their constituency's behest for which we should thank them collectively. The HUMC board of directors finding a financial partner and pursuing the reopening of PVH, they should be thanked. And Governor Christie for enabling the political environment to be open minded to appreciate the Norther and Pascack Valley's medical needs, he deserves to be thanked. PVH is reopened because there was a public need and a viable business opportunity that together, made political policy sense. This hospital's return wouldn't be if it wasn't for the people, HUMC and Governor Christie. Every other noise maker was just that, another noise maker; and some of those did it more for the attention.
Local321 May 26, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Hahahahahahahaha!!! LivinLocal should change your name to BitternJealous. Birkner is the man. Wish he could run the Township.

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