The future is now: Helena Theurer Pavilion promises health care experience unlike any other in N.J.

9-story, 225-bed addition to HUMC combines advances in technology with lessons learned during pandemic

The basics of the Helena Theurer Pavilion — nine stories, 530,000 square feet, 24 operating rooms, six robotic surgical systems, 72 private surgical waiting rooms, 50 ICU beds, 175 surgical beds, 225 individual rooms — do not begin to describe the facility.

Neither does the phrase “state-of-the-art,” especially when it comes to the technological advancements, including the most advanced robotic surgery capabilities in the state, one-of-a-kind intraoperative MRI capabilities and the latest and greatest sterilization and safety protocols.

Simply put, the Helena Theurer Pavilion, the $714.2 million addition to Hackensack University Medical Center that will open in the final weeks of the year, promises to be a health care facility unlike any other in the state or even the region.

So said Bob Garrett, the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, during a media walkthrough Tuesday afternoon.

“This is the most technologically advanced hospital in the state of New Jersey — one that can take care of the most complex of patient cases,” he said.

“This is truly a smart hospital in every sense of the word for its technological capabilities. And it’s the first hospital in the nation that has been built during the COVID era, taking the learnings of COVID and putting them into the design of this beautiful facility.”

Truth be told, the planning for the pavilion began long before the pandemic. It dates back nearly a decade. But the lessons learned from COVID-19 — and the willingness of the system’s leaders to collaborate with doctors, nurses and other health care workers to design a facility that speaks to both patients and providers, can be seen at every turn.


  • The operating rooms: They are far bigger than before at 800 square feet, which allows surgeons to bring in more equipment and larger teams — all while working in a more spacious atmosphere. The rooms have video technology that allows them to call up any necessary plans and receive items from other areas of the hospital. It also will allow doctors to collaborate with — or teach — others around the world.
  • The patient rooms: All private. All with bathrooms. All with couches (that can convert to beds) for family members. All with 65-inch TVs that not only provide entertainment, but give patients the ability to video chat with family and friends if they are unable to visit. Patients also have a tablet connected to their bed that allows them to control the lights, the temperature — even order meals.
  • Sterilization/safety: The pavilion was constructed so individual rooms, wings or floors can be quickly converted to negative pressure rooms (a key during COVID, as it constantly pushed all of the air out). Moreso, each room comes with a double door for supplies (so they can be refilled outside the room) and passages that allow IVs to be changed outside of the room, when needed. The hospital also has set up a zone where all sterilized pieces of equipment are used and cleaned — never once leaving the area during the course of their use.

Dr. Howard Ross, the chair of surgery and surgeon-in-chief of Hackensack University Medical Center, said the advancements cannot be overstated.

Dr. Howard Ross speaks as Mark Sparta looks on during a tour of the Helena Theurer Pavilion.

“This tower is not a regional-leading, it’s not state-leading, it’s actually nation-leading,” he said.

Mark Sparta, the chief health executive of Hackensack University Medical Center and the president of the Northern Region of Hackensack Meridian Health, said the pavilion will begin taking patients in the last two weeks of the year, normally slow times for hospitals.

It will give the facility a chance to ramp up. Soon after, Sparta feels the Helena Theurer Pavilion will set the standard of care.

“The Helena Theurer Pavilion represents the future of health care,” he said. “This facility will really position Hackensack University Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian Health to care for the next three to four generations of New Jersey residents with the most complex care that anyone can think of.”

The hope is that it will make a hospital that has been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the state for the past decade even better.

One that will make New Jersey residents who choose to go across the Hudson River for care to think twice.

Garrett feels the Helena Theurer Pavilion — with all its high-tech features and a team of top doctors and nurses — is on par, if not a level above, anywhere else in the region.

“My expectation would be that patients from New Jersey that are going into New York now might consider having their surgery here,” he said.