NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Board of Commissioners (BOC) met with Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of new Seton Hall - Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Tuesday evening, Jan. 17.
Stanton was delighted to be invited to the BOC meeting and shared the progress of the new medical school with the mayor and commissioners. She also expressed thoughts on how the new school could work with the community.
The dean explained the steps that need to be taken after the construction work is completed before the school can open for classes in 2018. “First real phase is to apply for accreditation,” she said.
The accreditation process goes through many phases including the basics and specifics on the curriculum. The long process includes a self-study. “What may go wrong and how [the school] will handle it,” she said.
According to Stanton if everything goes as planned in June the school will receive a visit in September or October. “The first class may come in July 2018,” she stated.
Stanton suggested the first class will be about 50 new students, eventually increasing to 125. It will include 500 nursing students from the existing Seton Hall University enrollment. Approximately 1,000 students will be on campus when the school opens. Thereafter the school will see around 1,400 students. About 80 faculty members will be present for the year.
“The mission is to train every single physician to think about the community. When they meet with a patient, see what they are treating then work with the lifestyle they are in,” Stanton said. Two floors of the old Roche building were not renovated, they will continue to work as science labs. “There will be a research program. Hackensack and Sloan Kettering will partnership,” she explained.
“We are very grateful to be in the township of Nutley and Clifton,” she said.
Stanton asked the commissioners their thoughts. “Beyond the economics, what meaningful presence can the medical school have engaging with the community,” she asked. “Such as programs, summer lectures, high school, junior high, assessments,” she continued to explain.
Public Affairs Commissioner Steven LF Rogers was the first to quickly respond to the question. “In home aging population is big. Seniors can’t get out of their house. The old days doctors came to the house for a visit. [The township has] one doctor of the community that does house visits but he can’t see them all. There are 1002 veterans in town, they would like to speak to a medical professional,” he noted.
Rogers also mentioned the recreation clubs in town that may benefit as well including the Tuesday and Friday clubs and the Old Guard. “As an integration we can reach a lot more of them, a lot of preventive medicine and overall wellness,” he said.
Rogers cited special needs and Radcliffe school, “best in the state,” he said. “Special needs does not get a lot of support,” he added.
Commissioner Thomas Evans was present via phone. “The Cerebral Palsy Center [1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey in Belleville] would benefit,” he said.
The commissioner chimed naming town events such as the Hope Festival as well as the mental health agency [Nutley Family Service Bureau].
Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco addressed safety concerns. “How will we handle the campus with police and fire? We need to be protective,” he said.
“Prism will have their security and the campus will have security,” Stanton explained.
“But they can’t fill out police reports. Roche had their own ambulance, own fire department, we didn’t have much police presence,” Petracco said. “They had their own helicopter,” Rogers added.
The discussion then continued to connect the new school with the community and the use of the greenway near campus. The mayor then concluded this portion of the meeting thanking the dean for her time and showed enthusiasm with the development of the school.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 on the third floor at the Town Hall Commission Chambers, 1 Kennedy Drive.