Peconic Bay Medical Center Executive Director Amy Loeb outside the hospital's emergency department entrance Nov. 2. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Peconic Bay Medical Center is embarking on a $20 million expansion of its emergency department.

The Riverhead hospital submitted an application to the State Department of Health last month seeking approvals for the expansion, which will provide nine additional treatment rooms and a Level 2 trauma room with direct access to a new CT-scanner.

The expansion will increase the department’s space by almost 75%, adding 7,409 square feet to the existing 10,000-square-foot emergency department. A portion of an existing shell space adjacent to the to the current emergency department will be finished and a 4,018-square-foot extension will be added where the existing outdoor ambulance bays are located. New ambulance bays will also be constructed.

Both the ground-floor unfinished shell space and the open-air existing ambulance entrance were part of the Corey Critical Care Pavilion construction. The critical care pavilion, which opened in 2020, includes a 16-bed intensive care and cardiac care unit. It is also the new, expanded home of the Kanas Regional Heart Center, which includes two cardiac catheterization laboratories, an electrophysiology suite and recovery homes. The $67.8 million pavilion also has a helipad.

The emergency department expansion is designed for critical patients, said Peconic Bay Medical Center Executive Director Amy Loeb in an interview at the hospital Nov. 2.

Those are patients “who need highly time-sensitive care like that ‘golden-hour care,’ somebody who’s coming in for stroke, heart attack, trauma, sepsis, Loeb said. It’s an area that’s designed with a team that’s dedicated to that type of critical care,” Loeb said.

Demand for emergency department critical care has increased as the hospital has increased its ability to provide care for critical patients with its addition of the cardiac cath lab and its designation as a Level 3 trauma center and a primary stroke center.

The overall operation of the emergency department will be more efficient, because there will be a separate item in the area for lower acuity care, Loeb said.

The number of patients going to PBMC’s emergency department for treatment continues to climb, and is expected to exceed 38,000 visits this year, Loeb said.

“The emergency department sees 700 strokes a year, 60 true STEMI heart attacks, which go up to the cath lab, and 1,300 trauma activations,” she said.

A STEMI heart attack is the most deadly type of heart attack, caused by a blockage in a coronary artery, and requires immediate intervention — typically a procedure to remove the blockage and place a stent in the artery.

The number of trauma team activations has doubled in the last three years, Loeb said. Trauma care can be anything from a motor vehicle accident to a hip fracture, she said.

The hospital continues to grow under Loeb’s leadership. The executive director joined PBMC in December 2015 as chief nursing officer. She was named deputy executive director in 2019 and became the hospital’s executive director last year when its longtime president and CEO Andrew Mitchell retired.

Women’s health is a focus of growth for the hospital, and she has worked to expand the scope of services offered in this area of care “across the lifespan,” Loeb said.

For example, the hospital now has a board-certified gynecologist, Dr. Susan Lee, as its chief of breast surgery. It is looking to expand neonatal care, Loeb said. In June, PBMC announced that ob-gyn Dr. Brian McKenna joined the hospital as director of women’s health. He will lead the effort to expand the hospital’s labor and delivery facilities and expand the hospital’s clinical staff in this area.

To create more patient care space, the hospital is closing its skilled nursing facility, which it has operated since 1985. The precise use planned for the space where the nursing facility is located has yet to be finally determined, Loeb said. The nursing facility is slated to close by the end of the year.

PBMC is also developing plans for the 24-acre Bishop McGann-Mercy campus it purchased from the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 2020. Renovations of the junior high school building are getting underway to accommodate administrative offices now housed in the former Suffolk County National Bank headquarters building on Second Street. The hospital is negotiating a contract with the Town of Riverhead to sell the downtown property, known as the Entenmann Campus, to the town for its use as a new Town Hall.

The hospital gained approval for office uses at the former junior high building from the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday evening.

Plans for the rest of the former Catholic high school campus are not yet finalized, hospital officials said during the ZBA meeting.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.