Plans to convert a shuttered Westwood hospital into Touro University’s new medical school have been scrapped and the university will instead set up shop in Hasbrouck Heights.
Administrators at Touro University College of Medicine hope to open the school at 377 Route 17 south in Hasbrouck Heights sometime in 2010, with a student body of 40 that is expected to grow to more than 100. Hackensack University Medical Center recently reopened emergency services at the Pascack Valley Medical Center, which the two organizations bought in June to convert into a school. The Pascack Valley area has been without a hospital since PVMC closed last year.
|Hackensack University Medical Center North at Pascack Valley PHOTO”ˆCOURTESY HUMC|
HUMC plans to turn the facility, now known as Hackensack University Medical Center North at Pascack Valley, into a 128-bed acute care community hospital. HUMC will buy out Touro’s interest in the site. According to Sharon Dilling, a Touro spokeswoman, specifics are being worked out.
“We are going back to Hasbrouck Heights to free up space for Hackensack University Medical Center to have a bigger hospital in the former Pascack Valley site,” said Dilling. HUMC “wanted to broaden services for the community,” she added.
The move will not affect Touro’s relationship with HUMC, which partnered with Touro last year to create the state’s first private medical school.
“HUMC is our primary affiliate,” Dilling said. “That relationship remains intact.”
Touro bought the building in Hasbrouck Heights in 2007 with the intention of turning it into the new school. Dr. Paul Wallach, vice president for allopathic medicine and dean of the planned school, previously told The Jewish Standard that Touro’s leadership wanted a pre-existing building that could be retrofitted for their needs. Officials said at the time that the 100,000-square-foot six-story building would be renovated to include classrooms, clinical skill centers, and faculty offices.
Touro’s leaders turned toward the former Pascack Valley Medical Center after the school partnered with HUMC. As Touro prepared to open in Westwood, the Hasbrouck Heights plan was pushed aside, although Touro still owned the building.
“We are going back to our original plan,” Dilling said.
She added that Touro wants to complete renovations by June.
Touro administrators had hoped to open the school sometime in 2009 but hit a roadblock in June when the school failed to win needed accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
LCME had scheduled a site visit to the former PVMC in March, shortly after Touro and Hackensack announced they had won the bidding on the shuttered hospital. However, the medical school did not close on the property until April 30. Under LCME regulations, accreditation applicants must own the proposed property before accreditation can be granted.
The accreditation process is a form of quality control that assures that a program meets certain requirements in structure and performance. Accreditation by the LCME is required for schools to receive federal grants and participate in federal loan programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, LCME is charged with the accreditation of medical education programs in the United States.
The New Jersey state board of medical examiners approved Touro’s application in 2006 to open in Florham Park in a building donated by real estate developer and philanthropist Charles Kushner, a member of Touro’s board of directors. The school began using offices in Hasbrouck Heights in 2007 and soon after decided to locate the school in Bergen County.
Touro has 33 campuses across the United States and eight other countries. It is named for Judah Touro, a 19th-century entrepreneur and philanthropist who was a major benefactor of Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. Touro University’s president, Dr. Bernard Lander, founded the medical school in 1970 in New York.