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Shovels in the ground for advanced cardiac care at PBMC/Northwell

Northwell Health's Peconic Bay Medical Center celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking today for its $60 million critical care tower, which will include advanced cardiac care facilities.
Photo: Peter Blasl

Peconic Bay Medical Center today held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its planned critical care tower at the hospital’s main campus in Riverhead.

The $60 million, three-story critical care tower will include a comprehensive cardiac care center offering lifesaving interventional cardiac procedures not currently available anywhere on the East End. The Kanas Regional Heart Center will include two cardiac catheterization suites, an electrophysiology suite, recovery rooms and an 18-bed intensive care/cardiac care unit.

Elected officials and benefactors — including John and Elaine Kanas, whose family foundation donated a $5 million gift for the cardiac center, among $20.25 million in fundraising to date in the “New Era Capital Campaign” — participated in today’s ceremonies outside the hospital before a crowd of community members and hospital staff.

PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell speaking at today’s ceremonies.
Photo: Peter Blasl

PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said today was “a momentous day in the history of the medical center,” a day for celebrating the heritage of Central Suffolk Hospital and the past decade of growth and expansion as Peconic Bay Medical Center.

“Nearly 10 years ago we came together on this very spot to break ground for the buildings that would radically transform health care in our region,” Mitchell said. He listed the highlights of the last decade, including, among other things, “a destination orthopedics program, a major robotics surgery center, an incredibly special palliative care unit, a graduate medical education program, the largest multi-specialty group in eastern Suffolk, an area trauma center and an award-winning stroke center.”

Mitchell said through the hospital’s “powerful partnership with Northwell Health” it is dedicated to “creating a new era in health care.”

Mitchell said he had on his desk a certificate of need application to the State Health Department for an interventional cardiac catheterization facility dated 1993. It never came to fruition, he said.

“In less than a year Northwell Health got our CON approved,” Mitchell said.

The PBMC board chose to become part of the Northwell Health System in large part because Northwell officials committed to immediately pursuing approvals for the cardiac care facilities and moving forward with its construction as soon as possible thereafter.

The cardiac catheterization facilities will allow specially trained cardiologists to perform procedures that clear blocked cardiac arteries for patients suffering heart attacks within the window of time required to save heart muscle — and lives. Currently heart attack victims on the East End generally have to travel an hour or more to a facility licensed for those procedures — often with dire health consequences or loss of life.

In partnering with Northwell Health over Stony Brook University Hospital, PBMC went against the recommendations of a state commission which advocated the three East End forming a new health system with Stony Brook as the hub, a newly forming system that both Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport and Southampton Hospital have elected to join. PBMC’s choice was also contrary to the wishes of State Sen. Ken LaValle, who was an ardent advocate of a Stony Brook health system and was vocally opposed to a PBMC-Northwell union.

Lavalle attended today’s ceremonies wearing the red Stony Brook University cap that has become something of his trademark. His attire was not unnoticed by PBMC chairwoman Sherry Patterson, who was prepared for the red cap’s appearance. Patterson, who opened up today’s ceremonies, playfully called on LaValle to replace his Stony Brook cap with a Northwell cap — drawing laughter and applause from the audience. The senator, smiling, complied and donned the Northwell cap.

PBMC chairwoman Sherry Patterson, left, asks LaValle to replace his signature red Stony Brook University cap with a PBMC/Northwell Health cap at today’s ceremonies.
Photo: Peter Blasl

“This has been 15 years of work by the board, the management and the foundation and it took Northwell Health to put it all together,” Paterson said.”Make no mistake this critical care tower will save lives.”

In his remarks at the podium, Northwell president and CEO Michael Dowling extended “special thanks” to the senator, who he said, “above all, cares deeply about his community.”

Dowling said the community today should “have a wonderful sense of pride” because of the strides Northwell and Peconic Bay are making.

“This is health reform in action — not discussion, not theory, not legislation, not political comment. This is actually what reform is about: doing something where you see a result, where you can touch and feel it and patients can come here and get the best care,” Dowling said.

“Walk out of here with pride,” he said. “Walk out of here saying, ‘Something great just happened here today.’”

Rendering of Peconic Bay Medical Center after completion of planned critical care tower.