There are few people who are as committed to the Westwood community as Skip Kelley. Skip has lived in Westwood for four decades, raised four children, and served as the borough’s mayor for eight years and as a councilman for five. He was, accordingly, very pleased when Pascack Valley Hospital reopened as HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley in 2013. Little did he realize at the time that he would be among those able to testify to the convenience and peace of mind that comes with having an excellent local hospital.
That’s because last fall Skip developed a bowel obstruction that required surgery. "I was at Pascack Valley for two weeks, and I was very impressed with everything," he says, "It’s so nice to have the hospital back."
Skip was admitted to HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley with severe abdominal pain, the consequence of a colon resection he underwent almost 30 years ago. One of the risks for patients with abdominal surgery is that they will develop excessive scarring that prevents their intestines from moving freely. When sections of the intestine adhere to each other, they can twist or kink, producing a painful blockage.
His surgeon, Dr. Saraswati Dayal, managed the situation conservatively. "In most instances like Skip’s, we hold off on surgery because the blockage sometimes resolves on its own," she says. After a few days of observation, Dr. Dayal decided to operate, removing extensive scar tissue and inserting a barrier to minimize its regrowth and promote movement.
It wasn’t until she was in the operating room that she learned Skip had been mayor of Westwood. "I understood why Skip was so often on the phone or using his iPad," she says. "It’s a great vote of confidence in the level of care we provide when someone as deeply engaged in the community as Skip comes to Pascack Valley."
Skip has only good things to day about Dr. Dayal—"she was phenomenal"—as well as the rest of the staff. "Everyone at Pascack Valley treats patients with respect," he says. "This was a tough one for me, but it was easy to get through it because of their consideration and care."
For instance, Katie Errichiello, one of the staff nurses who cared for him, brought in hard candies for him to suck on until he could again start eating and drinking liquids. "My goal is to help make our patients as comfortable and satisfied as possible," she says.
Having Pascack Valley operational once more made a tremendous difference to Skip and his family. "It made it so much easier for my wife to visit me," he says. But Skip is not the only one who appreciates the convenience. "I live in Westwood myself," Dr. Dayal explains, "so having Pascack Valley reopen is great. For me, it’s just a two-minute drive."