Clawing Our Federal Tax Dollars Back from Washington to Support North Jersey’s Patients, Families, & Frontline Health Care Workers
Above: Gottheimer today at Hackensack University Medical Center to announce a $775,000 federal investment for the hospital’s new ICU.
HACKENSACK, NJ — Today, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced a $775,000 federal investment clawed back from Washington to Jersey for a new, life-saving, cutting-edge CT scanner at Hackensack University Medical Center’s (HUMC) new Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
In the past, Hackensack UMC has had to move patients around the hospital for urgently needed scans. By having a dedicated CT scanner in the new ICU facility, it will ensure doctors, nurses, and technicians have the equipment they need to help save lives.
If an ICU patient requires a CT scan — to determine whether a procedure or treatment has been successful — they must be moved down to the existing imaging center. Moving ICU patients, some of whom are on ventilators and other life support equipment, can cause serious risks to their health. Having to move a patient from the ICU can also expose the patient to other infectious diseases present in the hospital.
The new CT scanner for Hackensack UMC is among the key community project funding proposals that Gottheimer fought for and successfully secured for the families of the Fifth District as part of bipartisan legislation signed into law last month.
“We simply can’t allow our hospitals to be ill-prepared or be without the tools and staffing resources needed to provide the highest quality of care. That’s what’s bringing us all together today: to ensure this top-notch health care system here in North Jersey has the resources they need to reduce the strain on frontline health care workers and patients, and ensure that we’re prepared for anything thrown our way,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Today, thankfully, we are clawing our federal tax dollars back to Jersey to invest in our community and ensure we will have even higher quality health care services. Our health care workers always have our backs when we need them most; we must make sure we always have theirs, so they can focus on providing the best care possible to our community. This new federal investment will do just that.”
According to Mark Sparta, President of Hackensack University Medical Center, the expansion will support hundreds of new jobs, 24 operating rooms, 50 ICU beds, 150 medical surgical private rooms, a new central utility plant, and more.
“We are grateful to Rep. Josh Gottheimer for his support in helping us continue to advance healthcare for the communities we are privileged to serve,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This project, one of the largest hospital expansions in the nation, will provide innovative care and ensure that Hackensack University Medical Center remains one of the best hospitals in the nation.”
“Having this technology in our ICU is a gamechanger and we could not be more grateful to the Congressman for his help in supporting the funding needed for us to be able to locate and construct the room needed for that CAT scanner on that ICU,” said Hackensack University Medical Center President Mark Sparta today.
Below: Gottheimer with Dr. Lisa Tank, Chief Medical Officer at
Hackensack University Medical Center and HUMC doctors, nurses, and staff.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you to all the doctors, nurses, techs, and hospital staff here at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) for your incredible work, especially over these particularly trying last few years during the pandemic. You are our heroes, and, on behalf of everyone in the Fifth District, thank you for keeping our community safe and healthy, and for the lifesaving work you do each and every day.
Beyond showing my appreciation for all of you, I am here today to announce a great win for our health care and our families in Northern New Jersey. Working closely with local leaders and the health care community, we fought for, and have officially clawed back from Washington to Jersey, $775,000 for Hackensack University Medical Center’s new life-saving, state-of-the- art CT scanner to help critical patients in the ICU.
This critical federal investment will help this great nonprofit, teaching hospital complete the expansion of their new intensive care unit (ICU) being built in the pavilion right behind me — ensuring that doctors, nurses, and techs have what they need to treat seriously-ill patients in critical need of care. Instead of having to wheel a patient around the hospital for an urgently-needed scan, they can do it right here in the ICU. This is especially important because moving ICU patients can cause risks to their health and it’s a labor- intensive task for hospital staff.
Having a dedicated CT scanner for this new ICU will help the hospital deliver the highest standard of health care to our community — a goal I know we all share.
We know that our North Jersey communities have faced very tough times from COVID-19, causing so many of our friends and neighbors to struggle — as well as putting an incredible burden on our hospitals and frontline health care workers.
Believe it or not, the staff here at HUMC actually treated New Jersey’s first COVID patient in March of 2020 and, since that time, has cared for nearly 7,000 COVID patients.
I’ve heard from so many doctors and care providers that the pandemic has completely changed the way hospitals function. Hospitals now must operate with even greater caution because of the infectious nature of COVID. And on top of this new challenge, the pandemic revealed a shortage in health care workers, including nurses, and showed us that our health care facilities do not always have the resources they need.
Just last month, more than 11 percent of New Jersey hospitals reported critical staffing shortages and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be more than a million openings for registered nurses by 2024. To make matters worse, the Hospital Preparedness Program — part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — is the only source of federal investment to help regional healthcare systems prepare for emergencies. Its budget has been slashed in half over the past 15 years.
We need to be doing everything we can to make the jobs of our health care workers easier so that they can effectively care for patients — especially with staffing shortages. And I should add that Hackensack is the largest employer in my district.
Like many hospitals around the country, HUMC has seen an increasing need for space and resources. I’ve heard from Mark, and others at HUMC, that there has been a serious need for ICU resources — even before the pandemic. In fact, to show you just how serious this need is, when the pandemic hit, HUMC was forced to convert its cafeteria into a COVID wing to manage the significant influx of patients.
On top of having to handle this crisis, if an ICU patient requires a CT scan — to determine whether a procedure or treatment has been successful — they must be moved down to the existing imaging center. As many of you can imagine, moving ICU patients, some of whom are on ventilators and other life support equipment, can cause serious risks to their health.
Having to move from the ICU can also expose the patient to other infectious diseases present in the hospital. Not to mention, significant or prolonged movement can be extremely unsettling or painful for patients, putting their health at risk.
I’ve heard from healthcare workers here at HUMC that moving a patient from the ICU can require four or more staff members, and it can be an incredibly difficult and stressful process for both the patient and the staff.
We simply can’t allow our hospitals to be ill- prepared or be without the tools and staffing resources needed to provide the highest quality of care. That’s what’s bringing us all together today — to ensure that our premier health care system here in North Jersey has the resources we need to reduce the strain on frontline health care workers and patients, and ensure that we’re prepared for anything thrown our way.
Today, thankfully, we are clawing our federal tax dollars back to Jersey to invest in our community and ensure we will have even higher quality health care services. Our health care workers always have our backs when we need them most; we must make sure we always have theirs, so they can focus on providing the best care possible to our community. This new federal investment will do just that. And it’s the type of return on investment for our community that we should always be fighting for.
I am proud to have played a role, working closely with the hospital team, to make this project possible, and I will continue to work with local leaders, listen to health care workers, and fight to claw our federal tax dollars back to North Jersey.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight several other community project funding proposals that we fought for and won for the families of the Fifth District as part of the bipartisan legislation signed into law last month. We successfully clawed back millions of dollars to communities across North Jersey, including more than $7 million for projects right here in Bergen County.
In addition to this project, we landed investments including for Bergen County’s Hackensack Transit connector project, New Bridge Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Emergency Department expansion project, Ridgewood Water’s Drinking Water Treatment facilities construction, and so much more.
These investments are big wins for North Jersey and will help support our public transportation; improve our water infrastructure; ensure we have high quality, accessible health care facilities; and lower the property tax burden on our families. I’m all about affordability and lower taxes and these projects help do just that.
Since I was elected, I’ve made it a priority to fight to claw back these dollars for North Jersey families. I’ve been working for years with our mayors, councils, counties, first responders, colleges, nonprofits, hospitals, health systems, and religious institutions to help claw more of our federal tax dollars back from Washington to New Jersey. As of last year, we are now up 112 percent in what we’ve clawed back from Washington and the Moocher States since I took office.
And to make sure we’re supporting our hospitals and health care workers, in January, I introduced new bipartisan legislation — the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act — to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and ensure the U.S. is better prepared for future crises and pandemics. This legislation will combat equipment shortages and provide near real-time tracking of medical and health supply inventories in New Jersey and nationwide — for supplies that frontline workers desperately need.
The bottom line: the pandemic has taught all of us, including our hospitals, life sciences companies, and health care workers, that none of us can afford just to think in the short term. We must also make sure we are learning lessons from this pandemic and better preparing ourselves for the future.
Again, I want to thank all our health care workers for the incredible work they’ve been doing over the past several months and years, especially during the pandemic. This new federal investment we’re announcing today for HUMC will help you continue to care for patients, and get health care workers the support they need.
And by clawing more federal dollars back here to North Jersey — to help invest in our firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, higher-ed institutions, and hospitals like HUMC — we have lifted significant costs off of local budgets, and helped reduce our property taxes. This is all about improving affordability for Jersey families.
I know that with incredible leaders like Mark Sparta, Dr. Lisa Tank, and Ramonita Jiménez, and the hard-working doctors, nurses, and techs at HUMC fighting to help our community stay healthy and safe, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.
May God bless you and may God bless these United States of America.
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