Valley Health System celebrates new hospital in Paramus (PHOTOS)

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As Valley Health System puts the finishing touches on a state-of-the-art hospital on a brand-new campus in Paramus, the regional health care system is poised to begin its next chapter of care in North Jersey.

During a March 22 ribbon-cutting ceremony, Valley executives joined with Gov. Phil Murphy, elected leaders, donors and other community members to celebrate the long-awaited opening in the heart of one of Bergen County’s busiest municipalities.

Located on Winters Avenue, the 370-bed, 910,000-square-foot acute care hospital is the centerpiece of a 40-acre campus that unites acute inpatient care with the network’s wide range of outpatient services.

The new hospital is designed to adapt to the changing health care needs of the state’s most diverse and heavily populated area. Its key features include single-patient rooms for privacy and healing, an expanded emergency department, larger operating rooms, the latest technology and park-like grounds.

The campus also integrates the system’s existing facilities, located across the street from the new hospital. Valley’s medical arts building and the Robert and Audrey Luckow Pavilion provide same-day surgery, cancer care and retail pharmacy services.

Longtime Valley Health System CEO Audrey Meyers said, “Today marks the culmination of a vision Valley has long had to offer our community the most technologically advanced, beautifully designed and constructed, sustainable, patient-friendly facility.”

Audrey Meyers
Meyers

She added, “Today, Valley ensures its future as the health care system of choice for our region. It is a great privilege to cut this ribbon, knowing that all those who come through our doors for their care will be well served by Valley’s compassion staff and this stunning facility for generations to come.”

Leaving Ridgewood

The new Valley Hospital will replace the network’s 73-year-old facility, which is just 2.5 miles away on North Van Dien Avenue in Ridgewood.

Patients at the current hospital will move to the new one for emergency and inpatient care April 14. Many staff members and departments will also relocate to Paramus. However, Ridgewood will remain open for some services, like imaging, lab work, endoscopy and the breast center.

Valley initially sought to expand the Ridgewood location. After encountering resistance from the village, it decided in 2017 to withdraw the proposal and build a new facility in Paramus.

Considering its options for how best to meet the long-term needs of North Jersey, hospital leaders said it became apparent that building the new facility in Paramus would best accomplish that goal.

Besides being a welcoming home for the Robert and Audrey Luckow Pavilion, Paramus is the base for many community outreach programs Valley has supported over the years, the hospital says.

Following the Paramus Planning Board’s June 2019 approval of the plan, Valley held a groundbreaking that fall. Four years later, Kevin Lobo, chair of Valley Health System’s board of trustees, described the upcoming opening as an exciting moment for Valley that “honors the legacy of more than 70 years of exceptional world-class health care delivery.”

“We look forward to expanding Valley’s ability to positively impact the lives of those we serve in our community,” he said.

‘Changing the Paramus skyline’

Paramus Mayor Christopher DiPiazza said, “We’re happy to have you. It’s changing the Paramus skyline forever. Right now, we’re known for our malls, but from here on out, we’ll be known for having one of the best hospitals in New Jersey and Northeast.

“Being part of the Paramus community is unique and there’s nothing like it – it’s a great community of families, seniors, volunteers and veterans,” DiPiazza continued. “We have a great police department, great volunteer emergency services and great school system. The residents and governing body are excited to begin this new phase.”

Bergen County Executive James Tedesco – a former Paramus mayor – commented, “I am grateful for Valley’s continued investment into Bergen County with nearly 4,600 employees. Valley Hospital is critically important to our region not only as a healthcare provider but as an employer, serving as the second largest in all of Bergen County.”

Tedesco said, “We all know that health care is one of the fastest growing industries and is expected to continue to expand rapidly in the decades to come. This new facility will provide vital services and outstanding care with the capability of adapting to new and emerging care models as health care continues to evolve. Already a state leader for medical care, the new Valley Hospital and Paramus will continue to lead with distinction by providing cutting edge services and growing highly skilled jobs that attract the best and the brightest to Bergen County.”

First looks

Following the formalities, Valley conducted behind-the-scenes tours for the media. The experience gave a first look at the hospital’s emergency department, intensive care unit and NICU unit.

Key features include:
  • Single-patient rooms rather than traditional shared spaces, as a way to enhance privacy, safety and comfort
  • Flexible facility designwith features such as universally sized operating and procedure rooms, enabling the hospital to adapt to changing needs and medical technology
  • “Smart hospital” designusing state-of-the-art technologies, like artificial intelligence, smart beds and Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)

 

Other highlights include: indoor and outdoor dining areas, an expanded emergency department with 80 exam rooms — up from 40 at the current ED in Ridgewood. In patients rooms, 75-inch screens let patients call their nurses, order food, adjust temperature as well as see their X-ray, CT scans and more.

In addition, best practices for energy efficiency, space utilization, water consumption, and use of natural light are incorporated into the operation and maintenance of the building. Other green measures – such as electric vehicle chargers in the parking area and two green roofs – help the hospital in its effort to earn LEED Gold certification and further reduce its environmental impact.

Since construction was underway during the COVID-19 crisis, hospital officials said the public health emergency prompted them to change plans so that the facility is prepared to cope with any future pandemics.

Design changes included increasing isolation rooms and installing IV tube pass-throughs that allow staff to bring equipment out into the hallway. The updates provide safe distance from a COVID-positive patient, if needed.

Enhanced surroundings

Several panels from the famed mural on the exterior of the long-closed Alexander’s department store in Paramus have found a new home at Valley. Created by Polish-born artist Stefan Knapp, the 200-foot-long, 280-panel was dismantled just before Alexander’s was demolished in 1998. Valley is now displaying 24 panels in its gardens.
Several panels from the famed mural on the exterior of the long-closed Alexander’s department store in Paramus have found a new home at Valley. – PROVIDED BY VALLEY HEALTH

Valley has also set aside more than 30% of the campus to serve as open green space featuring gardens, lawns and walking paths.

Additionally, several panels from the famed mural on the exterior of the long-closed Alexander’s department store in Paramus have found a new home at Valley. Polish-born artist Stefan Knapp created the 200-foot-long, 280-panel piece. It was dismantled just before Alexander’s was demolished in 1998.

The artwork then reportedly made its way to various locations in North Jersey. Those include a former warehouse and public works yard, before Valley acquired the panels in 2021 to decorate the new campus.

Valley is now proudly displaying 24 panels in its gardens. The installation allows visitors to stroll along walking paths and admire the artwork up close.

Additionally, a display of the panels with Knapp’s signature is located inside the hospital near its conference center, steps from the front entrance. There’s also plans to incorporate 48 other panels throughout various Valley Health System office locations.

The path ahead

Meyers said, “While much will change for Valley Health System in the months and years ahead, what will remain the same is our commitment to embracing our missions of enhancing lives by healing, caring, and inspiring wellness. The same ideals that paved the road to our new hospital here in Paramus will continue to guide the care that is provided within its needs. I know I speak on behalf of our leadership team, our physicians and our staff when I said that we are honored to care for you and your loved ones in this new facility.”

After congratulating hospital leaders on the upcoming opening, Murphy said he was confident the facility “will become not just one of the premier hospitals in the state or the Northeast, but in the United States of America.”

“And that’s really important for Bergen County … and for New Jersey, where increasingly families plant their flags in places with a high quality of life,” said the Democratic governor. “… When you drill down, you figure out why people have such a thirst and appetite to get in communities that we have in the state, especially in this county. It’s high-quality education, it’s transportation and quality of health care and value.”

For full coverage, check out the April 1 issue of NJBIZ.


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