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Jul 10, 2015 9:21 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Eastern Long Island Hospital To Pursue Partnership With Stony Brook University Hospital

Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.
Jul 15, 2015 10:27 AM

Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport announced last week that it will pursue a partnership with Stony Brook University Hospital, an agreement that is on the same scale as Stony Brook’s future affiliation with Southampton Hospital—and a key step in Stony Brook’s effort to create a new network of hospitals on the East End.

The agreement will consist of Stony Brook absorbing ELIH’s operating license, as it will with Southampton Hospital. ELIH first will have to secure state approvals—including the agreement of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, as Stony Brook is operated by SUNY—in order to move forward with the deal.

Southampton Hospital is still waiting for its final round of similar state approvals after SUNY signed off on its agreement in January after months of delays.

The Greenport hospital’s decision comes more than six months after it announced that it was in discussions with both Stony Brook and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead was also considering relationships with both entities, and opted earlier this year to join the North Shore-LIJ health care system—seemingly putting a dent in Stony Brook’s plan to form its network of East End hospitals.

Stony Brook’s deal with ELIH thus will mean a continued affiliation with ELIH for Southampton Hospital, as the two institutions, while geographically separated, have already collaborated in a number of different areas, including medical residency programs and mental health treatment, as well as sharing laboratory computer systems.

Robert S. Chaloner, Southampton Hospital’s president and CEO, said ELIH joining with Stony Brook will only further encourage such a relationship. “We are very, very happy that they made the decision. We’ve enjoyed working with the people at Eastern Long Island,” Mr. Chaloner said. “With Stony Brook, we’ve got the chance to really build something that’s tailored to Suffolk County. With a third hospital, it’s truly becoming a system.”

For Stony Brook, the agreement supports just that: The creation of a network of hospitals on the East End, a goal the larger, western Suffolk facility has pursued ever since it began partnership discussions with Southampton Hospital years ago.

“We are grateful to SUNY’s visionary leadership in its support of our continued work to establish agreements with community hospitals in Suffolk County for the care of Long Island residents,” said Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak, Stony Brook University Hospital’s chief executive officer, in a press release issued by ELIH shortly after its Board of Trustees unanimously voted on the partnership last Thursday evening, July 9.

Paul Connor, ELIH’s president and CEO, said in the release that the two hospitals will immediately begin a collaborative planning effort to “develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure current and future health care needs are addressed.”

“While the delivery of health care, and especially hospital care, is rapidly changing, becoming a part of Stony Brook University Hospital will allow ELIH to make this complex transition while continuing to carry out our longtime promise to the community,” Mr. Connor stated. “The hospital has been here for 110 years, and this affiliation will ensure that the health care needs of the community are met for years to come.”

State officials have applauded ELIH’s decision to join forces with Stony Brook.

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle had a completely different reaction to Peconic Bay’s decision to partner with North Shore-LIJ, calling it “an outdated hospital-centric approach” that did not follow the recommendations of a state committee that suggested all community hospitals in Suffolk County partner with Stony Brook. But he was fully supportive of ELIH’s move.

“This unanimous decision ensures that people on the North Fork and Shelter Island will continue to receive expert medical care close to home,” Mr. LaValle said in a statement this week. “I think it is indeed fitting that ELIH—the first hospital in Suffolk County at 110 years old—has shown its continued dedication to the community by ensuring its mission and future are guided by decisions made at the local level.”

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., also a proponent of a network centered around Stony Brook, echoed Mr. LaValle’s comment. “Combined with the planned partnership of Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital, the face of health care in eastern Suffolk is about to change in a very good way,” he said in a statement.

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