The Master Plan: We Want a Hospital

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm

The Master Plan: We Want a Hospital

February 2, 2009

Access — A Medical Requirement
Filed under: Ordinance — riskaverse @ 6:00 pm
Tags: distance to hospital, Travel time to hospital


Valley Hospital’s proposed expansion application in Ridgewood has rankled more than a few of its area residents with the prospects of increased traffic. The roads around Valley are already dealing with rush hour congestion problems. How will Valley’s increased managed care capacity magnify those problems? How will the general area’s healthcare access be affected?

Valley Hospital is surrounded with a rural road infrastructure. Add a $750 million investment to accommodate Valley’s anticipated growth in managed care demands, and traffic congestion isn’t simply a possibility. The two questions on access become a dozen ‘what-if’ questions should a renewed hospital be denied in Westwood.

Travel time is part and parcel of any medical access definition. Valley Hospital is the closest quality hospital to the closed Pascack Valley Hospital (PVH). Each mile, every potential obstacle, increases the displacement time between a diagnosis and a treatment. That displacement will be decisive in a breath for life.

Various studies evaluating mortality in relation to a hospital’s distance exist but they tend to be seen as inconclusive in the eyes of some critics. Many originate from countries with large rural areas, like Australia or New Zealand. Some suggest 30 miles or 30 minutes as being the limits to timely life saving treatments. Since we don’t have open stretches of roadway, the 30 minutes seems more transferable for consideration.

Still, the variety of complex factors that can affect a study’s criteria only highlight the complicated concerns in respecting the needs for accessibility. For example, is travel impedance and miles primary or should social economic situations in combination with age and disease divided by travel costs and distance decay attitudes be a heavier weight in balancing life and death results?

In general terms, one 2007 study noted, “… data suggest that any changes that increase journey distances to a hospital for all emergency patients, may lead to an increase in mortality for a small number of patients with life-threatening medical emergencies …” This study highlighted that each 10 km (6.2 miles) of distance resulted in an approximate 1% increase in mortality. Valley and Englewood’s vision would reduce timely life saving treatment to a lottery of circumstance. Is 1 death per 100 acceptable odds?

Mortality concerns rise with minimum disagreement when discussing respiratory, diabetes and prenatal related illnesses relative to time of care. Heart attacks generate different views since some believe the level of EMT care can offset the transport time to a hospital. Yet, a 2003 Cornell University (CU) study found that for each five-minute increase in the time to reach a hospital, a heart attack victim’s probability of receiving the appropriate care in time, falls 1.25 percent. In a CU press release Mr. O’Neill, the study’s author, stated, “Our research shows that for people who experience heart attacks, distance from a hospital has a very significant impact on their access to medical facilities and their eventual outcome.” (Estimating Out-of-Hospital Mortality Due to Myocardial Infarction, by Liam O’Neill)

HUMC and Legacy’s proposed 128-bed hospital, HUMC North, is seeking to offer the north corner of Bergen County an access relief valve to essential hospital medical care. The redeveloped hospital would be over 50% smaller in bed capacity then PVH. Collectively, with Valley and Englewood, they would offer northern New Jersey residents comprehensive access to necessary healthcare resources, plus accessible surge capacity in the event of a pandemic crisis.

The American College of Emergency Physicians’ noted in a December 2008 press release “New Jersey policymakers need to take immediate action to address the multitude of issues restricting patients’ access to emergency care,” said Dr. McGill. “Hospital closures and high hospital occupancy rates may be contributing to hospital crowding and boarding of patients in emergency departments, which are a growing problem in the state.”

Medical conditions, travel time, physical effort, age, socio-economic situations, costs, all affect accessibility outcomes. Ultimately a hospital’s distance, in medical terms to the people of its intended care, must define access. Valley and Englewood can declare their proximity is ‘adequate’ — but then their costs of operations doesn’t include the funeral costs of those for whom it wasn’t.

Area residents are reminded to sign the petition to show their support for the return of a hospital. (Please click HERE to sign that petition.) Don’t let HUMC’s competitors decide the Pascack and Northern Valley health resource needs! Show your support, tie a green ribbon around a tree in front of your home. Or call HUMC’s public relation’s department at 201-996-3760 for a ‘People First’ lawn sign.


  1. Dear Ridgewood VC are you reading this????

  2. Hey, with the expanded hospital and the resulting potential for more traffic up Linwood and therefore more accidents, its a damn good thing we are going to get an expanded hospital!

  3. You put “A place for everyone to voice their opinions about local issues in the village” in the blog heading. This should include opinions that are different from your own. You once noted that the blog was favorable to Republican issues, but that should not allow you to censor the postings. You are giving people the false impression that the items that you post were the only items that were submitted – and oddly enough most of them agree with the general view of the moderator.

    The internet is a great vehicle for the free flow of information and you are doing your viewers a disservice by not presenting all sides of an issue. You know that I am not talking about vulgar or libelous postings, just differing opinions.

  4. Not to mention the potential for more traffic during the summer with the proposed Graydon renovation!

  5. Anonymous said…
    Hey, with the expanded hospital and the resulting potential for more traffic up Linwood and therefore more accidents, its a damn good thing we are going to get an expanded hospital!

    4:04 PM

    Damn skippy!

    The rush hour and visiting hour traffic around Valley Hospital has become a nightmare. The vehicles trying to turn into the backed up vistors parking spill out on No. Van Dien often bring the traffic flow to a standstill.

    The time between the onset of a health care emergency and the promptness in which the patient receives treatment often means the difference between life and death.

    If Valley Hospital can not accomodate the patient volume, then by all means, re-open another facility in Bergen County.

  6. In the last week of January, Valley Hospital sent out glossy brochures to all Ridgewood households called, a Report to the Community. This was another blatant attempt by the Hospital to silence opposition to its expansion plans and deflect attention from the real issues. Valley does not pay any property taxes to support the Village it feeds off.

    There is a large number of people think that Ridgewood’s image is being harmed by Valley Hospital’s grab for market share over the healthcare of the community. It’s all about money!

    Valley Hospital is the most profitable operation in Bergen and yet says that it will not be able to compete with privately owned competition? If you look through Valley Hospital’s finances you find that there are a lot of people making money from the hospital; pathology, consultants etc. who’s income does not go through the hospital records as they bill the patients separately. The Hospital operates like a large shopping Mall; a location where independent businesses pay fees and a share of their profits to the center. The operation of emptying the patient’s wallet can only start when a victim enters the facility – so the bigger the catchment area the better! The more victims and the more test needs to be run and procedures to the performed, the more money the parasites make! Why should Valley Hospital care about the roads around Ridgewood. They do not pay a cent to maintain any of them.

  7. continued scare tactics……stop valley.com

  8. Why must This community worry about the vast area of non-residents who come here. Ridgewood must start thinking about itself and each part of its community.

  9. In the case of Valley, not-for-profit is just a joke. Maybe they should pay some kind of reduced tax for the services they receive from our village.

  10. The people of Ridgewood pay for everything they use in the Village and so should Valley Hospital.

    They need to stop being a parasite and become a paying member of the community in which it operates.

    Ridgewod deserves better.

  11. 10:45–well put. VH has squandered whatever good will they had built up in this Village. They have over-reached in both the preposterous expansion proposal and in trying to deny other towns access to convenient medical care. They compound their pernicious grubbiness with the ham-handed PR campaign, especially the “polls” and direct mailings. “Health care administrators, heal thyselves.”

  12. Did the VC forget there is a school right next to the hospital. How can a large expansion with years of construction and traffic benefit our kids. Where is the BOE?

  13. I am a Ridgewood Taxpayer!

    My property taxes directly fund the maintenance of roads, schools and other Village services such as Police and Fire.

    …and I get to decide what happens in the H-Zone! StopValley!

  14. Before anyone goes running to get info from HUMC’s “public relations department”, take a good look at the fiasco they have created in THEIR town.

  15. Thats fair point; however that is also for Westwood to deal with. The city of Hackensack offers a very different demographic and it is more citified than the Village of Ridgewood.

    Ridgewood residents gain nothing by pointing to HUMC’s expansions down south. You have to deal with the devil in your own back yard.

  16. The fact is that valley has bit off more than they can chew. Patients sometimes wait 12 hours
    in the ER unti a bed opens up.
    Patients line the ER hallway
    (flight decks as VH calls them) begging for help.
    I see the quality of care going
    down, there are just too many patients, and VH refuses go into
    divert mode. The new construction,
    (if approved) would be several years away. The logical answer
    is to open Pascack, it could up and running long before the ground
    breaking at VH occurs.
    Their slogan should be “Keep our Hospital’s (pockets) healthy.

  17. It’s become so sad. I work at VH and can no longer park my car there. The SWAT team tells you where you can park and where you can’t park and where to go to hell and get written up.
    I refuse to let the orange jackets park my car. I’ve heard too many incidents of cars being scratched, dented, and left unlocked. I now park at Gradon pool and walk half a mile to the hell hole.

  18. It’s become so sad. I work at VH and can no longer park my car there. The SWAT team tells you where you can park and where you can’t park and where to go to hell and get written up.
    I refuse to let the orange jackets park my car. I’ve heard too many incidents of cars being scratched, dented, and left unlocked. I now park at Gradon pool and walk half a mile to the hell hole.

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