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(Updated Oct. 2) Heralding what they called “a new era of health care on the East End,” officials from Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital today announced a new partnership between the two institutions that will result in the construction of a new state-of-the-art hospital on the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University and the more effective provision of expert health care in the region.

The president of Stony Brook University, the dean of its school of medicine and Stony Brook’s new CEO and vice president for health systems joined Southampton Hospital president and CEO Bob Chaloner and elected officials in Parish Hall at Southampton Hospital for an announcement of an agreement to have Southampton become part of the Stony Brook health system. Southampton would operate under Stony Brook’s state health department license and would be governed by Stony Brook, with a joint advisory committee appointed by both hospitals to advise on strategic and community issues for the South Fork.

“It’s the right thing to do for Southampton Hospital and for the East End,” Chanloner said in an interview.

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The NYS Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century — commonly referred to as the Berger Commission — in its 2006 final report recommended the creation of a system led by Stony Brook and taking in the three East End hospitals — Southampton, Peconic Bay in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport — as well as Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue.

Stony Brook School of Medicine Dean Kenneth Kaushansky said state health commissioner Nirav Shah believes “regional healthcare is the primary pathway to realizing a stabile and strong N.Y. health care system. And that’s what we are planning to do,” Kaushansky said.

The new partnership will bring “the very best care that modern medicine has to offer,” Kaushansky said. “It’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for Stony Brook, a win for Southampton and a win for the citizens of eastern Suffolk County.”

“This is the first step, a significant first step,” State Senator Ken LaValle said in an interview after the program concluded. The trustees of the hospitals and the SUNY system must sign off on the deal and the state health department must approve it. But LaValle said he believes it will happen. LaValle said he anticipates ELIH to enter the Stony Brook system within six months and PBMC within 10 months.

But in a news release issued Sunday evening on behalf of the Alliance by its board chairman Bobby Goodale, a PBMC trustee, the Alliance said it planned to enter discussions with other potential health system partners.

2012 1001 thiele lavalleLaValle said he found the release “puzzling” because both North Fork hospitals have already started discussing partnerships with Stony Brook and they were “extremely enthusiastic,” he said.

Alliance vice chairwoman and Southampton Hospital trustee Patricia Stewart, who serves as chair of the Alliance PR committee, said the news release sent out by Goodale was not the official position of the Alliance board, which had not discussed its subject matter or authorized the release. “It did not go through the Alliance PR committee,” Stewart said.

The Alliance is governed by a board of directors on which board members from the three individual hospitals sit.

Goodale said he had indeed had discussions with Alliance board members to reach consensus on the substance of the statement. When asked if he had consulted with board members representing ELIH or Southampton, he declined to identify who on the board he spoke with, citing confidentiality concerns.

Kaushansky acknowledged he has met with representatives of both ELIH and PBMC and said he was hopeful that Stony Brook could forge a regional health system for eastern Suffolk. Kaushansky said an initiative on their part to align with a different hospital system would be “shooting themselves in the foot.”

No one from ELIH or PBMC attended the news conference at Southampton. In an email Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for ELIH said the statement issued by Goodale Sunday evening reflected ELIH’s position.

Peconic Bay Medical Center, in a statement Monday afternoon, echoed the statement issued by Goodale for the Alliance Sunday. PBMC said it intends to “seek a strategic partnership” that will advance its mission.

“PBMC Health will be soliciting proposals early next year from those regional health care systems” that align with PBMC’s goals.

“Given the importance of this decision for all our futures, we are committed to investing the requisite time and resources, obtaining input from all our stakeholders — trustees, staff, physicians, and members of the community,” the hospital said in a statement.

Identification of a system partner and negotiation of an agreement is a lengthy process that typically takes about 24 months, the hospital said.

The deal between Southampton and Stony Brook was a long time in the making, said Southampton vice president for community and government relations Robert Ross, who said both institutions began discussions at about the time Stony Brook decided to close Southampton’s residential college, in spring 2010.

Photo captions:

(Top) From left: Rep.Tim Bishop, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, State Senator Ken LaValle, Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Stony Brook University president Dr. Samuel Stanley, Bob Chaloner,  Southampton Hospital chairman Peter Larsen, and Stony Brook University Hospital CEO Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak. (Photo courtesy of Stony Brook University)

(Middle) Dean of the Stony Brook School of Medicine Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky speaking about the new partnership.

(Bottom) Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle at Monday’s announcement.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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