>Push for Pascack hospital is political
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2011
By SAM PASSOW
To say the movement to open a new hospital on the site of the closed Pascack Valley Hospital is not about politics is naïve.
Not that the residents who packed Westwood Regional High School’s two auditoriums last week for a hearing with the state health planning board were there with a political agenda. Wearing green shirts provided by Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), which runs the satellite emergency room at the Pascack site and plans to open a new hospital with the help of a for-profit company, their pleas for a new hospital after their old one closed were made with a genuine concern for their quality of life.
The residents want a full-service hospital close to them. Who wouldn’t? But they weren’t the only ones to speak at the hearing. They were treated to a parade of state and local officials. A common refrain that night was that the residents are in overwhelming support of getting their hospital back. Again, that’s obvious. Why would anyone in the community say no to that?
But a representative from Valley Hospital in Ridgewood asked everyone to look outside of the region. Pascack Valley wasn’t the only hospital to close recently. At least a handful in New Jersey shut their doors in just the last five years. When residents in Paterson and Plainfield lost their hospitals they held rallies pushing for new ones, but the Pascack Valley effort is different.