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Web Extra: Fordham Teams with St. Barnabas to Serve Community, Pursue Research


Fordham Teams with St. Barnabas to
Serve Community, Pursue Research

Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., holds the award given to Fordham while posing with John Tognino (left) and Victor R. Wright, chairman of the St. Barnabas Hospital Board of Trustees (right).
Photo courtesy of St. Barnabas Hospital

By Chris Gosier

Fordham University students have become a growing presence at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx over the past several years.

They read to children awaiting medical care. They translate for non-English speakers who show up in the emergency room. Fordham students have “shadowed” doctors on the job to learn about the medical profession, and students are collaborating with medical residents to produce potentially groundbreaking research.

The partnership is sure to keep growing, according to University officials who attended a gala hosted by the St. Barnabas Hospital Auxiliary to honor Fordham’s contributions to the hospital.

“There are a whole host of reciprocal things that we are now working on, and it’s been a great, great partnership for both institutions,” said John Tognino, chairman of the Fordham University Board of Trustees, who is also vice chairman of the St. Barnabas Hospital Board of Trustees and president of the Board of Directors at Union Community Health Center, a St. Barnabas affiliate.

The June 19 dinner at the Marina del Rey in the Bronx drew about 450 people, including hospital staff, friends of the hospital and representatives of local community organizations, said Thomas Murray, president of the hospital auxiliary and director of community affairs at St. Barnabas.

There was a ceremony honoring the University’s men and women, and hospital officials presented a Steuben Glass sculpture as a gift.

“This is quite an honor for us,” said Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., Fordham’s senior vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer. “It shows the longstanding traditions the two institutions have in working together. It was very clear to me that the relationship is very strong, and is growing. All of us that night felt a special warmth.”

Tognino said he sought closer ties between the institutions after joining the Fordham Board of Trustees in 2000.

He wanted the hospital to benefit from the expertise housed at Fordham, so he sought to bring more faculty onto the St. Barnabas board and reached out to the University for help with various hospital needs.

Collaborations soon sprouted up. Fordham students started volunteering as translators in the St. Barnabas emergency room, and the College of Business Administration also conducted a one-week training program in finance at St. Barnabas, Tognino said.

More than 200 Fordham students have participated in the St. Barnabas College Volunteer Corps since it began three years ago, said Patricia Belair, senior vice president of the hospital.

Members of the Fordham men’s and women’s basketball teams have delivered toys and gifts to children in the Union Community Health Center’s pediatric waiting room. Through the hospital’s Reach Out and Read program, students read to children awaiting treatment at the health center, taking their minds off their medical worries.

The hospital and the University recently discussed ways to jointly address various public health issues in the Bronx, said Dr. Nelson Eng, president of medical staff and chief medical officer of Union Community Health Centers.

Freedman said he was intrigued to learn about joint research opportunities between the institutions, and foresees more of them receiving external funding.

One project is focused on the possible links between autism and environmental toxins. Graduate students in computer science at Fordham are marrying their data mining and bioinformatics techniques to medical residents’ biostatistical research.

“We’re basically forging the two approaches, in some ways,” said Dr. David Dayya, associate attending physician in the family medicine department at St. Barnabas. “Science is better when you have many disciplines coming together.”

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