If you drive on Route 4 by Riverside Square Mall in Bergen County on a regular basis, you know the deal: Traffic is going to tie up — and there are going to be digital billboards for Holy Name.
It’s been that way for more than a decade, or since Holy Name grabbed every digital rotation on all four signs, including two that head directly into Teaneck.
Holy Name CEO Mike Maron uses the billboards to do more than just tout the top-rated medical center’s latest specialty service, hire or make a health care PSA – he sees it as a community message board for the area, one that often will be found showing a profound message to drivers who may have extra time to look around during the bottleneck. Fairleigh Dickinson University, which stunned the college basketball world with a victory over Purdue Friday night, just the second-ever No. 16 over No. 1 NCAA Tournament triumph. It was a literal David vs. Goliath victory as FDU, the smallest team in the tourney, defeated the tallest – one featuring a 7-foot-4 center.For the coming days and weeks, the signs will include messages honoring
FDU’s Cinderella journey came to an end Sunday night, when it lost to Florida Atlantic University – a game in which it led in the second half before falling short. It’s that type of effort that made FDU the talk of the tourney.Maron, in fact, said he was thinking about how he could honor the team and the school before the game with Purdue had even ended. FDU’s moxie, he said, was so New Jersey – so Teaneck, the town the medical center has called home for more than a century.
By 1 a.m. Saturday morning, billboards honoring the team were up.
“We turned two billboard messages around to acknowledge and congratulate Fairleigh Dickinson for demonstrating to the entire world that anything’s possible when you put your mind to it,” Maron said.
“It’s just a great story. It’s kind of who we are. To see them do that reminds us of ourselves — reminds us of all the things that we should never take for granted in this world.”
The analogy between FDU and Holy Name is real.
Holy Name, an increasingly rare single-entity health system in New Jersey, competes with the largest health systems in the state — and with the nationally known brands across the Hudson River — on a daily basis.
And it often wins on quality, service and price.
Holy Name, despite being one of the hardest-hit hospitals in the country in the earliest days of COVID, became a national model for care. And, if that’s not enough, the system also owns and operates the main hospital in Haiti.
For all the system does globally, Maron puts its hometown ahead of everything.
“It all starts with your deepest roots,” he said. “We service all of Bergen County, but we wouldn’t be doing that at all if it wasn’t for Teaneck.”
The system’s connection with FDU goes far beyond geography, too.
Dr. Dennis Pfisterer, an orthopedic surgeon at Holy Name, has been the team doctor for the men’s basketball team the past three years (if you know him, you saw him on the bench and in the pictures from the post-game locker-room celebration).
The system works with all of FDU’s sports teams. It’s a relationship that Maron and Holy Name are working to expand.
“We’ve actually been very low-key with them, just providing the services to the student-athletes,” he said. “We’re in discussions with him now to take it to another level. It’s kind of ironic, because, for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working on expanding our relationship to a full student and faculty health program.”
Maron said Holy Name will help FDU coordinate and manage general student, staff and faculty population.
“We went to them during COVID and offered vaccines and advice and counseling — and that grew into a greater depth of service, where we’ll be able to do everything from annual physicals to vaccinations to emergency issues,” he said. “Anything that comes up, we’ll be there for them.
“It’s a great relationship that’s only blossoming.”
Maron has watched all of FDU’s games in the tournament — and not just because of the system relationship with the school. He’s a huge sports fan, too. Halfway through the school’s monumental upset of Purdue, he said he could see this was going to be something special.
“I thought it was a possibility the whole game,” he said. “You could tell by they were playing. They had confidence and drive. It was inspirational.”
When it ended, his first calls and texts went to Pfisterer — who sent pictures and videos back to Maron.
Read more from ROI-NJ:
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“He sent videos of what the coach was telling the team in the locker room — how proud he was of them,” Maron said.
That led to Maron’s second call — to his marketing team, led by Cade Cipriano, Melissa Rodriguez and Sal Clemenza. The team quickly turned around new images showing support for team. Those were to the billboard company — and visible on Route 4 — by approximately 1 a.m.
“We wanted to do something that showed how proud we were of them for the way they were representing Teaneck,” Maron said.
Maron remembers the day those billboards on Route 4 went digital, meaning they rotate, offering a number of opportunities to businesses.
When asked, years ago, how many slots the system should take, Maron was definitive: All of them, he said.
The billboards have become a passion project for Maron ever since.
In addition to promotions of Holy Name, Maron makes sure the signs acknowledge religious holidays (of many denominations, too). But his favorite thing to do is put up short inspirational sayings he often finds himself, he said.
“When the world just turns crazy, we’ll put up sayings as a reminder that things are going to be OK,” he said. “And, because we can, we’ll remind people that God is part of their lives, too, and they should never lose hope.”
And every once in a while, something happens that reminds people there is a lot of good out there. That hard work, confidence and a little bit of Jersey grit is all you need to shock the world.
Maron and Holy Name will be sharing that FDU story with drivers on Route 4 for days and weeks to come.