Hospital officials and members of the Entenmann family snip the ribbon at the Robert Entenmenn Administrative Center today in Riverhead. Photo: Peter Blasl

Peconic Bay Medical Center’s new administrative office building on Second Street has been named in honor of the late Robert Entenmann, businessman, vineyard owner and philanthropist who died in 2016.

Entenmann was the founder of Martha Clara Vineyards and Big E Farm. After his passing, his children wanted to honor his legacy with a donation. Through a gift from the Robert Entenmann Advisory Committee to the New York Community Trust, Jacqueline and Robert were able to give $5 million to Peconic Bay Medical Center’s New Era campaign.

Peconic Bay Medical Center president and CEO Andrew Mitchell spoke to the small crowd gathered under a sturdy tent in the rain this morning at the dedication ceremony.

“Today marks another milestone for Northwell Health and Peconic Bay in our relentless pursuit together in becoming the regional medical center for the entire East End,” he said. “We are one step closer because of the generosity of the Robert Entenmann family.

“[The Entenmanns] legacy is cemented here at Northwell Health and Peconic with the dedication of this Robert Entenmann campus in honor of their $5 million gift to our Kanas Regional Heart Center and our new critical care tower.”

Dr. Stanley Katz, chair of cardiology, spoke of the 27 patients whose lives he has been able to save from active, severe heart attacks in the temporary cardiac catheterization lab since it opened in October. “We are transforming the delivery of healthcare in the area.”

He then spoke to Entenmann’s daughter directly. “Jackie, I think this investment is going to have a huge impact on the people of the East End.”

“I’d like to thank the entire Entenmann family, and I promise you, for as long as I am able to come to work, I will make really good use of what you have established,” Katz said.

The Robert Entenmann Campus is located at 4 West Second Street. The building, which used to house Suffolk County National Bank, will provide nearly 40,000 square feet of office space, and will be an office for 150 non-clinical staff members.

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, talked about the impressive new acquisition.

“This campus is spectacular. This is a statement building; when you come up to it, it says something. It is unique. And it was a bank, so you have to continue to search the basement in case there is a vault someplace. Sometimes when banks leave, they forget something,” he said to laughter.

“When you step back a second and think what everything looked like 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and think what has happened since — just think about what is happening today,” Dowling said. “It has changed dramatically and will continue to change.”

“We have a social responsibility to the community at large,” Dowling said. “It’s about taking care of people better at the end of the day. We can never lose sight of that fact that at the end, it’s someone whose illness we can prevent, whose illness we can cure, and who we can treat better than any place else.”

Mitchell described Entenmann as a man “committed to giving back to the community.” He was a commisioner of the Bay Shore Fire Department and an active supporter of veterans’ groups.

He was also an avid boater, Mitchell said.

“Those of us who had our little clam boats remember distinctly seeing the Norma, which was this absolutely gorgeous wooden boat traveling on the great South Bay with Robert at the helm,” Mitchell said.

He recalled one instance that Entenmann had actually rescued him as a kid from rough waters.

“A swell was coming up, bad things are happening. My boat was pretty well trashed, and this was well before the days of Sea Tow,” Mitchell said. “Sure enough, down the bay comes the Norma with Robert at the helm. He proceeded to throw me a tow line and pull me back to the Bay Shore Marina.”

Robert Rosenthal, a friend of Entenmann’s who knew him for more than 50 years, said Entenmann was a man who believed in quality.

“He was a man of conviction, a patriot, a man who believed in business ethics, and most importantly, he believed in quality. Whether it was quality in a boxed cake, or quality in the wine that he made at Martha Clara Vineyards, or his desire for quality in health care on Long Island. And I know that he is smiling down on us right now.”

As much as they were devoted to improving all of Long Island, Mitchell said the Entenmanns have a particular love for Riverhead.

“Their commitment to making Riverhead a better place is known to many,” Mitchell said.

“He deserves to have his legacy live on,” said Rosenthal.

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Courtney Blasl
Courtney is a photographer, videographer, web designer and writer. She is a lifelong Riverhead resident.