TRENTON – Sen. Paul Sarlo today criticized the Department of Health for refusing to give Hackensack University Medical Center additional time to pursue its plans to re-open Pascack Valley Hospital and provide more access to quality healthcare in North Jersey.
“Hackensack University Medical Center made a strong case for why it should be given additional time to arrange the re-opening of Pascack Valley Hospital as an acute care facility,” Sen. Sarlo (D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic) said. “Commissioner Heather Howard’s refusal to grant an extension denies the people of North Jersey an additional choice when making healthcare decisions. It also shuts the door on the potential for opportunities for good-paying jobs at Pascack Valley.”
Sen. Sarlo said the Health Department could have easily given HUMC more time to make their case for re-licensing Pascack Valley Hospital by granting an extension under the Permit Extension Act of 2008.
“I am at a loss to understand why in her final days in office Commissioner Howard would not take advantage of the additional time available to all the parties in this matter. Instead, she chose to issue a ruling that will have far-reaching healthcare and economic consequences long after she is gone,” Sen. Sarlo said. “This is too important a decision to be made on the way out the door. The prudent approach would be to allow the incoming health commissioner time to become familiar with the record in this application and work out a solution that is satisfactory to all the parties involved.”
Sen. Sarlo said the HUMC officials have been negotiating in good faith with other hospitals in the area to address their concerns over the re-opening of the 128-bed Pascack Valley Hospital.
“Those discussions should be allowed to continue, and should not be short-circuited by the Health Commissioner’s decision,” he said. “The people of North Jersey who have used this hospital in the past want to see it re-opened. They want the additional choice and they want the better access that another first-rate acute care hospital will give them. The Commissioner should not stand in the way of ongoing discussions that could make that happen.”