Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Celebrates Establishment of Omar and Behnaz Baker Patient Assistance Fund

September 22, 2017

The Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation recently announced the creation of the Omar and Behnaz Baker Patient Assistance Fund, which supports families of patients with chronic and life threatening illnesses at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. From left to right: Mark D. Sparta, executive vice president, chief operating officer, Hackensack University Medical Center and executive vice president, Population Health Clinical Operations, Hackensack Meridian Health Network; Lisa Tank, M.D., vice president, Medical Affairs, Hackensack University Medical Center; Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president, Hackensack University Medical Center; Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., co-chief academic officer and senior vice president of Medical School Development; associate dean, Medical Education Continuum, and professor of Pediatrics for the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, and physician-in-chief, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital; Sadrul Anam, M.D.; Azzam Baker, M.D., CEO, Riverside Medical Group; Omar Baker, M.D., co-president, chief quality and safety officer and director of Performance Improvement, Riverside Medical Group; Behnaz Baker, CIO and director of Population Health, Riverside Medical Group ; Stephen Percy, Jr., M.D., interim chair, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital; and Alissa K. Sandler, section chief and social work supervisor, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital.

The Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of the Omar and Behnaz Baker Patient Assistance Fund, which supports families of patients with chronic and life threatening illnesses at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center.

Through a significant gift, Omar Baker, M.D., co-president, chief quality and safety officer and director of Performance Improvement at Riverside Medical Group, and his wife, Behnaz have established the fund, which will be used for items such as pharmacy and insurance co-pays, medical needs and equipment, transportation, education and meals.

“We are so thankful for this generous gift from two phenomenal individuals, our good friends, Omar and Behnaz Baker,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president of Hackensack University Medical Center. ”The Baker family has been involved with our medical center for decades, helping us in so many, different ways. This gift is instinctive of their love of humanity and their human-centric orientation.”

Friends and family of the Bakers were on hand for the announcement of the fund, which was celebrated with a reception at the Boscamp Solarium in the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. Dr. Baker is passionate about providing excellent service to both his patients and his community. It is a calling that he follows to honor the mission of his late mother, Mrs. Izdihar Baker.

“It’s pretty overwhelming to have this kind of recognition,” said Dr. Baker. “I feel like if you have the opportunity to do good, you should just do it. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ While we’re not going to change the world here today, this fund is a good start to helping others who are struggling so much.” He added, “My wife, Behnaz, serves as my main inspiration to give back. It’s her guidance, compassion, love of all children and wanting to be philanthropic with her time, energy, intellect and resources that sets the example for everyone that knows her. She is my hero, my best friend and the best role model for our daughters.”

Social workers at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with the medical team, will identify families for this support service through a psychosocial assessment.

“So many of our patients and their families will benefit from the fund that bears the Baker’s name,” said Stephen Percy, M.D., interim chair, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. “There are so many people with needs, who can’t pay their bills, who can’t pay for their medications. The gift that the Baker family has provided will make a huge difference by helping to ease the burden of not only increased medical expenses but the routine expenses that families with children who have chronic or severe diseases must bear.”

The Baker’s say they are hopeful that others will contribute to the fund so more families will be helped for years to come. Dr. Baker says the fund will continue the legacy of his mother, who instilled the values of philanthropy and charity in him and his siblings at an early age.

“She would always remind us that every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven,” said Dr. Baker. “I learned early in my medical training that stress of any kind is an antidote to healing. Being sick as a child is stressful enough. The point of this fund is to minimize the stress on the families so that they can concentrate more on the health of their children instead of worrying about how they are going to pay their bills.”


About Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital

Hackensack Meridian Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive medical and surgical pediatric care in more than 30 sub-specialties, all integrated within a state-of–the-art child and family-focused facility. The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital is designated by the State of New Jersey as a children’s hospital. It is also one of a select group designated a full institutional member of the Children’s Hospital Association. This designation honors the contributions of a dedicated team of health care professionals, team members and volunteers who have made the children’s hospital a world-class healing environment for children and their families for many years. More significantly, this designation builds on that commitment of care for children that Hackensack University Medical Center has always provided. The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital received a Top 50 national ranking in Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospitals. The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital includes the Children’s Cancer Institute and Pediatric Emergency Department and offers the following services, programs and sub-specialties: The Audrey Hepburn Children’s House – a state-designated Regional Diagnostic Center for Child Abuse and Neglect serving Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties; Adolescent Medicine; Audiology: Blood and Marrow Transplantation (the only one in New Jersey); Cardiology; Community and CPR training; Child Life Services; Center for Pain and Palliative Care; Day Accommodation Suite; Dermatology; Gastroenterology and Nutrition; Genetics: Healthy Futures – Pediatric Weight Management; Hospitalists; Infectious Diseases; Inpatient Care Unites, Institute for Child Development; JUDY Center for Down Syndrome; Molly Center for Children with Diabetes and Endocrine Disorders; Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU); Nephrology; Neurology; Otolaryngology; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; Pediatric Surgery; Pulmonology; Rheumatology; Social Work; and the Steven and Richard Bader Immunological Institute. To learn more, visit

About Riverside Medical Group

Riverside Medical Group is the premier medical practice in Northern New Jersey serving patients in Hudson, Bergen, Passaic and Essex counties. Started over 35 years ago in Hudson county, Riverside has been able to grow due to its unwavering commitment to continuity of care and evidence-based medicine of the highest caliber. We have over 75 locations specializing in Adult Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy & Immunology, Behavioral & Mental Health, Cardiology, Developmental Pediatrics, ENT, Gastroenterology, Foot & Ankle, Ophthalmology, Pain Management, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Physical Therapy, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, and Sleep Medicine. As a nationally designated “Patient Centered Medical Home,” Riverside is able to provide patient-focused precision medical care to your entire family. The team consists of 200 board certified medical providers trained at the most prestigious academic institutions in the nation. Riverside offers the longest hours of operation of any private multi-specialty group in the country, with our headquarters open 365 days a year from 7 AM – midnight. As an advocate for prenatal health and birthing education, Riverside offers free prenatal, breastfeeding, and diabetes education classes. Welcome to Riverside; where your family is our family. To learn more, please visit: