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WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - In an age where hospital closings dominate the headlines, the old Pascack Valley Hospital is being resuscitated, brought back from the dead.
“Technically, this is a new certificate of need and this will be the first new hospital to be opened in the state of New Jersey in nearly 30 years,” Westwood Mayor John Birkner told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
It’s scheduled to open on June 1, the same day the original opened in 1959.
Birkner said that when the old hospital went into bankruptcy in 2007, it left a void in Bergen County, adding that the closure wasn’t due to lack of need, but due to poor administration.
“This area will service upwards of 200,000 people. We’re talking about, really, 28 communities in the service within the Pascack and Northern Valleys,” he said. “This is the biggest thing to our region, to the Pascack and Northern Valleys since the original hospital was opened.”
He said the new hospital will fill an enormous void for the tens of thousands of residents in the region.
“It is a remarkable economic boom to the area because all of the businesses that will be supported,” he said.
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Hackensack University Medical Center came to the rescue, taking over the shuttered facility.
But there were legal challenges from both The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood. They argued that the new beds weren’t necessary.
“We went to visit every Legislator that would open their door and listen to us. We went down to Trenton on numerous occasions. I spoke to, basically, the administrations of three governors,” Birkner said.
Capt. Steve Wolf with Westwood’s volunteer ambulance squad made the compelling argument that in an emergency, every second counts.
Since the old hospital closed, they’ve tripled the miles on their vehicles.
“We’ve had patients where, on the way to the hospital, the patient starting going downhill. We had to start taking measures to bring the patient back up where we already would’ve been at the hospital here in Westwood, rather than halfway,” Wolf told Adams.
Residents are relieved to have the hospital coming back.
“Valley and Hackensack are both far away. So, it’ll help quite a bit,” one woman said.
“We have a train coming through here and if you ever get stuck at the train, we’re talking, sometimes, life-threatening. So, we’re all very happy,” said one man.
“I live in Norwood. I had to go to Englewood, and Norwood to Westwood is much quicker,” said another.
The old Pascack Valley Hospital closed in November 2007, following a bankruptcy filing earlier in the year. The hospital had gone into debt after the completion of a four-story addition.
An open house is planned for later this week. Get more information by calling 201-880-2700.
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