Peconic Bay Medical Center unveiled plans yesterday for the next phase of an expansion it says will lay the foundation for bringing advanced specialized care to the region.
The $92 million expansion will implement new, life-saving technology, add 6,600 square feet to the emergency department, increase bed capacity, and establish a brand-new private Center for Women and Infants, hospital officials said.
In a presentation to a crowd of community leaders, donors and supporters yesterday afternoon under a tent erected outside the emergency department, PBMC Executive Director Amy Loeb outlined the hospital’s plans and introduced a $50 million fundraising campaign to support the expansion effort.
The focal point of the strategic plan is the expansion of PBMC’s emergency department, which will be renamed the Poole Family Trauma & Emergency Center in honor of a landmark $5 million contribution made by local philanthropists Thomas and Mary Jane Poole.
The demand for critical care in the region has grown exponentially, Loeb said, with PBMC seeing twice as many patients as it was initially designated to serve.
The expansion project will increase the emergency department’s capacity by 75%, providing increased emergency department capacity, a dual-bay trauma unit, additional cardiac response technology, comprehensive radiology capabilities and enhanced efficiency.
The other milestone project announced yesterday includes the modernization of the south pavilion, which will create 16-20 additional medical beds and establish a dedicated Center for Women and Infants.
The Center for Women and Infants will feature private rooms and enable PBMC to increase its level of care for women at all stages of life, including a more advanced level of breast health, urogynecology and tele-neonatology, with a goal of developing a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The hospital has already raised over $30 million toward its $50 million fundraising goal, Loeb said, including the proceeds of the recent sale of PBMC’s Entenmann Campus property on Second Street to the Town of Riverhead. The proceeds of that sale will be reinvested to create the newly modernized south pavilion, which will be named in memory of Robert Entenmann, Loeb said.
Loeb said the hospital is “laser-focused” in three areas to address health and wellness on the East End: economic impact, wellness and prevention, and access to health care.
“We are a primary driver of economics in this community,” Loeb said. “Our growth means better care, preventing illness and getting people back to their productive lives. But importantly, our growth means more jobs, more opportunities for local people and their families,” she said.
“Half of our team here at Peconic Bay Medical Center lives in our catchment area — and that matters,” Loeb said.
“And we are committed to growing our team from within the community. We are partners with local schools and churches. We recently held our very first job fair at the Riverhead High School… We hope we inspire them, educating students that we offer career camps for many skill sets, and that we support ongoing education for those that work here,” Loeb said. “Youth education is a part of our strategy to continue to contribute to economic growth, and in certain cases, change the trajectory for generations within families.”
The hospital focuses on wellness and prevention, Loeb said, because it has a responsibility to do its best to keep people out of the hospital. “We see ourselves as your partner in living your best life,” Loeb said. “PBMC has grown its network of primary care providers because primary care is “the backbone of prevention,” Loeb said. PBMC primary care providers see over 100,000 visits every year, she said.
Access to great healthcare is “a primary focus” for PBMC, Loeb said.
“People expect and deserve high quality care, close to home —especially when they call the ambulance and they don’t really have a choice where they’re going to go,” Loeb said. “Hospitals are safety nets for the community. We need to be here, and we need to be a great place to go.” Loeb said the hospital sees as its responsibility delivering access to specialty care here in Riverhead. “And we intend to deliver on that,” Loeb said.
“It’s stressful to have to be transferred away from home for hospitalization.” Loeb said. “In 2016, we transferred nearly 2,000 patients from here to other hospitals. In 2022, we cut that number in half,” she said. “We are grateful to have an amazing partner in South Shore University Hospital, where the care is excellent and seamless. But we need to continue to drive this number down because keeping your loved ones right here is very important to us and we know it’s important to you.”
Sherry Patterson, chairperson of the PBMC advisory board, reflected on the 2015 vote by the PBMC board of directors to join the Northwell Health system.
“And although we knew this was the right decision, we didn’t quite know exactly what the decision would mean for our hospital and our community,” Patterson said. “Well, now we know.”
Patterson thanked the leadership teams at Northwell Health and Peconic Bay Medical Center for their ongoing work.
“We wouldn’t be here today, without the support of our community leaders, hospital staff, or community members, who have always been the driving force behind PBMC success. We thank you for supporting us and for helping us become the regional medical center of choice,” Patterson said.
“Today, we boldly set out to raise the most funds in the medical center’s history in one campaign,” said Emilie Roy Corey, chairperson of the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation. “We are confident that we will meet our goal. We continue to believe that the community has confidence in us and will continue to support our efforts to grow to meet the health and wellness needs of our community,” she said.
The foundation has one task, Corey said: providing financial support for the hospital. Since the foundation was established in 2003, it has raised over $120 million, she said.
“The outpouring of support from the community over the years has been consistently overwhelming. And we know that we can, will and we must count on its continuation,” Corey said.
This story was reported by Alek Lewis and written by Denise Civiletti.
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