NUTLEY, NJ — A federally recognized agency has given its approval to the medical school currently proposed for the former Hoffmann-La Roche site in Nutley. The school, if it is opened, will be the only privately owned medical school in the state. This approval provides a big step forward for the project, according to the two backers of the school.
Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, which signed a lease in 2016 for two buildings on the former Hoffmann-La Roche site, obtained preliminary accreditation on Feb. 15 from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, a U.S. Department of Education-recognized authority that accredits medical-education programs.
“It simply means that Seton Hall-Hackensack can open for classes as intended,” Eugene Diaz, principal partner of Prism Capital Partners, the real-estate company leasing the land to the school, told the News-Record via email on Feb. 20.
In a statement from Seton Hall University in South Orange released Feb. 20, the school vocalized its excitement in this recent development.
“This is an essential requirement and great accomplishment in the complex process of establishing a new medical school,” the statement read.
While no information was provided on when the school will open, plans for the school continue to forge ahead.
“The two partners are working together to address the next steps in this exciting project as it moves forward, including, at the appropriate time, an announcement regarding our inaugural class recruitment,” read the Seton Hall statement.
Last month, the Nutley Planning Board gave preliminary approval to more than 700 parking spaces in Nutley Township, while the academics are busy formulating a curriculum.
“We are creating a rigorous academic curriculum that combines traditional science with a focus on the new frontiers in medicine — prevention and population health, genetics, and team-based care delivery in community settings,” the release stated.
Despite Seton Hall’s excitement, Diaz said that there was never any doubt that the medical school would be granted LCME approval.
“This approval was pro-forma and merely validates the ability of the medical school to commence classes,” Diaz said.
The two forces, Seton Hall and Hackensack Meridian Health, partnered in 2015 to address New Jersey’s physician shortage.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be a shortage of roughly 3,000 physicians in New Jersey, and 135,000 nationally, a 2016 Hackensack Meridian Health press release noted. In creating an academic institution, they hope to attract more N.J. residents to the field of medicine.
The joint venture later sought out space, two former research and development buildings, on the Hoffmann-La Roche site, which sits on the border of Nutley and Clifton. The site, referred to as ON3, was named for its close proximity to Route 3.
Prism Capital Partners purchased the 116-acre site from the European-based pharmaceutical company after its closure and departure almost five years ago.
Alongside the medical school, Seton Hall’s College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences will relocate from the South Orange campus to ON3.
With two buildings still vacant, and hundreds of acres available, Diaz previously told the News-Record that the site wants to attract high-quality corporations.