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Touro Med to set up shop in Hasbrouck Heights, not Hackensack

 
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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 COURTESY 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.

 
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Laughing with Joan

I made Joan Rivers laugh.

Of course she made me laugh, like she did to millions of others through her decades-long, often unfiltered, and ever-funny career, but yes, I made Joan Rivers laugh.

At the time, I was working at the celebrity-obsessed New York Post, and as the features writer for its women’s section, I had reason to ring up the raspy-voiced, Brooklyn-born blonde for a quickie. I had to grab a quote for some story that I was writing. As I recall, the conversation had turned to food, a favorite subject of the Jewish woman on my end of the phone, and, apparently, of that Jewish woman on the other end as well. Joan told me that she just adored the creamed spinach served at the legendary Brooklyn restaurant, Peter Luger’s — a must-have accompaniment to its famous and robust steaks. Joan told me she would dine there with a hairdresser-to-the-stars, the late Kenneth Battelle. (She kept her physique petite with this practice: She never ate anything after 3 p.m. If she did find herself dining with someone, she popped Altoids to keep her mouth busy.)

 

Cookin’ it up!

Tales of a Teaneck kitchen prodigy

How did 12-year-old Eitan Bernath of Teaneck come to be on the Food Network’s popular cooking show “Chopped”?

“He’s always been curious and he likes science,” said his mother, Sabrina Bernath. “He thinks it’s cool to mix flavors and watch things rise. He also likes to make people happy,” she added, pointing out that he had just brought his friends a freshly baked batch of cinnabuns.

For Eitan, a student at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, cooking is more than just a hobby. Struggling for the right word, the fledgling chef — whose website, cookwithchefeitan.com, will launch this week — described his relationship with the culinary arts as a “passion.”

 

Policies are the best policy

Teaneck synagogue forum addresses child sexual abuse

Does your synagogue have policies in place to protect children from sexual abuse? Do your children’s schools and camps?

Such policies, Dr. Shira Berkovits told a meeting in Teaneck on Sunday night, can make a difference to children’s safety.

Dr. Berkovits is a consultant for the Department of Synagogue Services at the Orthodox Union, and she is developing a guide to preventing child sexual abuse in synagogues. She was speaking at Teaneck’s Congregation Rinat Yisrael, as part of a panel on preventing child sexual abuse co-sponsored by three other Teaneck Orthodox congregations: Netivot Shalom, Keter Torah, and Lubavitch of Bergen County.

 

RECENTLYADDED

‘Because the Middle East is funny…’

He hates to say so, but American-Israeli comic Benji Lovitt must admit that last summer’s war was good for business.

It led to a 14-show cross-country tour that will include stops at Temple Emanu-El of Closter on October 30 and at the United Synagogue of Hoboken on November 11.

Since making aliyah from Texas eight years ago, Mr. Lovitt has come back to perform in the United States many times, using his immigrant experiences as fodder for his standup routine. But his daily helpings of humor during Operation Protective Edge in July and August splashed his name across the social-networking world like never before.

“People are looking for really positive Israel programming after the war,” he said. “I spent a lot of the war expressing how a lot of us in Israel were feeling, and many people told me that when everybody was depressed I was the one they looked to for a smile.

 

Project Ezra offers help to job seekers

Robert Hoenig of Teaneck takes over as its second director

This is a tough economy that we live in.

It can be hard to find a job, and hard to think straight when you lose one. It’s hard to figure out how to reorient yourself, how to present yourself, how to maintain at least the façade of confidence.

And it’s also hard to figure out how to pay your bills at the same time.

Project Ezra, founded in 2001, has provided help to local Jews ever since then. It was the brainchild — and really, by all accounts, the heartchild and soulchild too — of Rabbi Yossi Stern of Teaneck, who was its first director, and led it until he died unexpectedly in February. His work not only allowed many people to find work, but also helped support them and allowed them to maintain their dignity as they searched.

 

Roy Cho shows up

Democratic challenger in House race talks about Israel and more

What if the Jewish Community Relations Council held a candidates forum — and one of the candidates never came?

That was the situation in Temple Israel in Ridgewood on Monday night.

Joy Kurland, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, had invited both candidates for Congress from the 5th district.

Roy Cho, 33, the Democratic challenger was there.

Scott Garrett, 55, the Republican incumbent, was not.

 
 
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