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Hofstra Law Launches Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy With $1 Million Gift

The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University officially launched the Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC), one of the new institute’s medical partners.

The Kermit Gitenstein Foundation donated $1 million to fund this new multidisciplinary health law and policy institute, which was made possible through the efforts of Gitenstein Foundation head Steven Schlesinger ’76, a Hofstra Law alumnus and managing partner of the law firm Jaspan Schlesinger LLP.

“As a practicing attorney and alumnus of Hofstra Law, I see great value in giving students every possible opportunity for hands-on learning,” said Schlesinger. “Bringing doctors and law students together is a game changer for students pursuing careers in health law.”

The Gitenstein Institute was established with the mission of developing and implementing new methods for training students in order to broaden access to quality health care for everyone and to create a more just health care system.

As the health care sector continues to grow, lawyers with specialized training who focus on health law and policy will be needed to facilitate and implement laws. U.S. Department of Labor projections highlight health care as the sector with the largest projected job growth.

“The purpose of this institute is to explore ways to provide equal access to quality health care. We will also train students to become first-rate legal representatives to all of the health care system’s stakeholders,” said Dean Eric Lane. “Health Law has become an increasingly complicated, diverse domain and calls for special skills in administrative law, corporate law, bioethics, family law, Internet and technology law, and tort law, in addition to other more traditional legal areas.”

The Gitenstein Institute will build programs that provide a firm grounding in the basics of health law. Students will focus on the social and economic framework within which health law is shaped, learning skills indispensable to the practice of health law and having the opportunity to apply them. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in projects aimed at seeking to increase access to health care, improve the quality of health care and lower health care costs.

According to Professor Janet L. Dolgin, director of the institute, “The Gitenstein Institute offers exceptional, highly motivated students the opportunity to become influential thought leaders and help pave the way for positive change in the U.S. health care system through a variety of innovative and multidisciplinary learning experiences.”

In one of these learning experiences, for example, Hofstra Law students and medical students will do clinical rotations together at NUMC and will participate in a seminar to consider the value of a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. Areas of focus include the pediatrics department and the physical medicine and rehabilitation department. The institute will also collaborate with NUMC on a project focusing on advanced care planning.

“We are delighted to partner with Hofstra Law’s Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy and excited to be able to provide its law students with an opportunity to practice their professional skills as they work on health-related legal cases, helping to improve access to health care and advocate on behalf of the hospital’s patients,” stated Steven J. Walerstein, M.D., FACP, executive vice president for medical affairs and medical director at NuHealth.

The Gitenstein Institute is developing an advisement board of health care industry professionals and has named alumna Leslie Margolin ’80, CEO of The Margolin Group, as the board’s co-chair with Dr. Walerstein. “As an alumna who has watched the Law School grow in stature and influence over the years, I am honored to serve as the first board chair of the Gitenstein Institute,” said Margolin. “The institute represents another chapter in Hofstra Law’s proud history of serving the underserved in our communities and beyond.”

The institute will hold its first major symposium in October of 2013. After taking introductory coursework in health law, selected Hofstra Law students will begin making rounds at NUMC in the spring of 2014.