A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this morning for the new Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University located in Nutley. It is the first private medical school to open in the state in more than 50 years. The building is part of Prism Capital Partners’ ON3 development, which entails the entire 116-acre former Hoffman LaRoche campus.
Classes will commence at the medical school on July 9, with 60 students making up the inaugural class. According to Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, some 2,100 people applied to attend the institution, with applications coming from 49 states and from students who are “the best and brightest from some of America’s great colleges and universities, many of them Ivy League schools.” Half of the enrolled students are from New Jersey, half are women and the majority of students have an average GPA of 3.8 and are in the top 20 percent regarding MCAT scores, he said.
More importantly, the school will hopefully stem the physician shortage in New Jersey and across the country. Garrett said that New Jersey will need 3,000 physicians by 2020, while the nation will need 125,000 to 150,000.
The school will hopefully retain medical students who often move out of state to receive their education.
Garrett said the school will be innovative in many different ways. “First and foremost, we are going to have true inter-professional academics. With the Seton Hall Graduate College of Nursing and the School of Health and Medical Sciences moving here and interacting with the Medical School, medical students, nursing students and allied health students will attend classes together, share science labs and will understand each other’s disciplines and work as teams,” he said. “Studies show that when these different disciplines work together, patient outcomes are improved, patient experiences are improved and healthcare becomes more efficient and affordable.”
The medical school is just a three-year program, as opposed to the traditional four-year program. Additionally, students will take their residency programs at a Hackensack University facility, “which will assure a constant stream of physician man and woman power in New Jersey for generations to come,” Garrett said.
He added that the Hackensack Meridian Health board of trustees has approved a $100-million endowment fund dedicated solely for medical student scholarships.
According to Mary Meehan, interim president of Seton Hall University, the new medical school is a milestone achievement for Seton Hall, its students, faculty and partners, “but most especially, it is a milestone for the people of New Jersey who will receive extraordinary care from our graduates.
“Our journey began several years ago with these strategic questions: ‘How can we make our existing nationally recognized programs in nursing and health sciences even stronger, and how can we better serve our students – present and future? How can we create an innovative school that reflects the future of healthcare delivery, not just for medical students, but for all healthcare providers, and what more can we do to help the citizens of New Jersey live more healthier and more fulfilling lives?’ So these questions led to a vision of creating this wonderful facility and this new school of medicine.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, who also spoke at the event, commented that the field of healthcare is changing dramatically and that, “if we want to improve the system, we have to start at the beginning … at how we train the next generation of doctors. This school will help us ensure better outcomes through team based care.”
He also said the school is an economic game changer for the state’s economy. “This school will revitalize a major economic hub in North Jersey and move us ever closer to our goal of reclaiming the innovation economy, which we used to claim as our own. … If you want an example of where we build a stronger New Jersey, look no further than right here. The school of medicine will be the heartbeat that pumps new life throughout … the state’s economy.”
The entire 116-acre complex is being renovated by Prism Capital Partners at a cost of $500 million. According to Prism Principal Eugene Diaz, there is a total of 1.2 million square feet of usable building space at the site. When Roche occupied the complex, its 9,000 employees at the site were using nearly 4 million square feet.
Prism Principal Edwin H. Cohen commented that he expects there to be 4,500 people working at the complex by the middle of 2020. Currently, there are 500 workers on the site and that should increase to 1,500 by mid-August.
What attracted Prism to the property? “Location, location, location,” Cohen answered. “This is 116 acres nine miles from Manhattan on a major artery where 170,000 cars go by everyday smack dab in the middle of two major north and south New Jersey highways (the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway). This is an irreplaceable property that you just cannot find anywhere.”
Prism is investing its own money into the project. Diaz said many of the business that have or are moving to the site are recipients of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Grow NJ tax incentives.
The developer has just completed a $10-million roadway infrastructure improvement project at the site, and will begin another $10-million phase in August.
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