New Medical School to Open in Harlem – First in New York State in 30 Years
Director of Communications
College of Osteopathic Medicine, to be Located on 125th Street, To Provide Quality Education and Services to Minorities and Underserved.
New York, N.Y. – At a gathering today in the heart of historic Harlem, across from the Apollo Theatre, the Founding President of Touro College Dr. Bernard Lander announced the opening of a new medical school to improve medical care in the Harlem community and increase the number of minorities practicing medicine.
The new Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TOUROCOM), slated to open in the fall of 2007, will be New York's first new medical school in nearly 30 years and the first osteopathic college of medicine with a special emphasis on training minority doctors.
"There is a need for a medical school in New York City to serve minority populations and the underprivileged," said Dr. Lander. "TOUROCOM will function as an integral part of the New York City/Harlem community and work with the community, local schools and other colleges and universities to promote the increased availability of medical services in Harlem, the study of medicine, and to deliver osteopathic medical services in a variety of settings."
Dr. Lander also announced plans to start an undergraduate science college to prepare students in the local community to enter the medical school and for other careers.
The news was announced at an event at the school's temporary headquarters on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., co-sponsored by Lt. Governor David A. Paterson, a Harlem native, long-time supporter of Touro and the first African-American Lt. Governor.
Paterson also announced that within the next few days the administration of Gov. Eliot Spitzer will be bringing forth $100 million to set up a structure for financing research in medical education, including stem cell research. Such research has major implications for Harlem, where people suffer from various illnesses such as hypertension and obesity that could benefit from such research. TOURCOM plans to have research facilities that will engage in this and other types of medical research.
Paterson said that Touro College was the "right institution" to be bringing a medical school into a community that had long been suffering from a lack of services, citing a laundry list of hospitals that have closed over the years. "Students don't see medicine and science as an option, so enrollment has gone down, but we're going to bring it back again. Touro is a great institution," the Lt. Governor said.
So far, the school has received 800 applications for an opening class of 125, but few of the applicants are qualified minorities – a problem that the College aims to rectify. It plans to recruit from minority populations, working with elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools in Harlem to encourage students to major in science and consider a medical career. Most clinical training will take place in Harlem and other underserved areas. Graduates will be encouraged to remain in Harlem to practice medicine.
According to school officials, the percentage of medical students of African-American and Hispanic backgrounds is very low and getting lower, and the number of American-trained medical residents in Harlem area hospitals is well below 50 percent. Additionally, Harlem has been designated by the federal government as an area short in physicians, according to a report by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Also in attendance at the event were Dr. Jay Sexter, TOUROCOM's CEO; Dr. Martin Diamond, the school's dean and chief academic officer; Kenneth J. Knuckles, President and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), which has loaned $4.7 million to Touro for the project; and Daniel Laroche, M.D., president of the Empire State Medical Association. Representatives from other government and community organizations present included individuals from the New York City Department of Health, North General Hospital, the Empire State Development Corporation, the Harlem YMCA, and the Harlem division of Area Health Education Centers.
"This event marks a long and fruitful relationship between Touro and Harlem," said Mr. Knuckles of UMEZ. "Touro made its first presence in Upper Manhattan 28 years ago at Taino Towers in East Harlem. Eighty percent of that campus' payroll represented local employment and the students reflected the local community. Like UMEZ, Touro believes in investing directly in local communities and through its much needed and affordable educational services, Touro is also empowering all the residents of upper Manhattan."
The degree to be offered at TOUROCOM will be doctor of osteopathic medicine, D.O. Like M.D.s, D.O.s complete four years of basic medical education and pass comparable licensing exams. Osteopathic medical schools encourage their graduates to become primary care physicians; however approximately 40 percent take their post graduate training in various specialties of medicine and surgery. D.O.'s receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), which gives them a diagnostic and therapeutic advantage in providing the most comprehensive care.
The new school will provide approximately 75,000 square feet of state-of-the-art medical education facilities, including amphitheater lecture halls, classrooms, offices, support facilities, clinical skills training facilities as well as technologically advanced laboratories. The library will include over 13,000 books, 1,000 journals, sophisticated virtual resources, over 80 computers, multimedia areas and comfortable reading spaces.
In addition to the approximately 40 full-time faculty and 100 part-time faculty expected to be hired, the school expects to bring on board about 200 doctors from New York City hospitals in adjunct faculty positions to supervise students. The school is in the process of forming partnerships with hospitals in New York and clinics in Harlem for students to do their clinical work, and also has extensive plans for research, which will begin in the fall of 2008.
TOUROCOM is the nation's 24th college of osteopathic medicine and Touro's third. In 1997, Touro opened a college in Vallejo, California and in 2004, its second, in Henderson, Nevada. TOUROCOM has received provisional accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, and its program is registered by the New York State Education Department.
For further information on TOUROCOM, please go to http://www.touro.edu/med/