Governor Chris Christie praised State Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd's decision to approve the reopening of the former Pascack Valley Hospital during a town hall meeting in Westwood Wednesday.
O'Dowd to reopen the facility as Hackensack University Medical Center North at Pascack Valley in a letter to HUMC CEO and President Robert Garrett Monday. Christie said he expects the hospital will improve medical care for residents and bring more jobs back to the area.
"This is the right decision for the residents of the Pascack Valley," Christie said. "It's going to provide immediate increases in access to health care for everybody in this community."
The governor also praised the state and local officials who pushed for the hospital to reopen. The project has been supported by many residents in and around Westwood since Pascack Valley Hospital closed in 2007.
But the plan has drawn criticism from Valley Hospital and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Officials from those facilities have said HUMC North could draw away their patients and cause them to have financial difficulties. Christie said he expects all the hospitals will be able to coexist.
"This should not be about petty rivalries," Christie said. "This should be about the people of this region who need to be served in the easiest and most accessible way."
The governor also used the opportunity to speak about his proposed tax cut to the capacity crowd at the
Christie has called for a 10 percent tax cut, which he said could save the state $1 billion over three years and make New Jersey more attractive to businesses. Christie said this would create more jobs and make the state more economically "competitive."
"Let's pass this income tax cut before June and start returning your money now," Christie said.
Christie also outlined some of his other proposed reforms while responding to residents' questions at the meeting. He said that bail bond procedures should be altered to be more like the federal system, which allows the judge to consider danger to the community and flight risk when setting bail.
In New Jersey, judges currently can only consider flight risk. According to Christie, when accused violent criminals are released, they are intimidating witnesses and making it more difficult to prosecute them.
"This is incredibly demoralizing to the police," Chirstie said.
Christie said he also favors treatment programs for nonviolent offenders who are addicted to drugs, which he said can amount to half the cost of keeping them in prison and lower recidivism rates.
"Drug addicition is a disease that can be treated, but if it's ignored, it wil kill, Christie said. "We lose as a society because of it."