Keri and Michael Feldman with their newborn twins, Austin, left, and...

Keri and Michael Feldman with their newborn twins, Austin, left, and Avery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

For hospital patients, the privilege of privacy used to be reserved for those willing and able to pay hundreds of dollars a night for single rooms.

That’s changing, as hospitals on Long Island convert a growing number of shared rooms into private accommodations. At some, as many as one-third to half of all beds are now in private rooms — or even more than half.

Maternity, intensive care, rehabilitation and pediatrics are among the units offering all-private rooms. Many of the new accommodations are available at no extra charge compared with the cost of staying in a shared room, particularly when an entire unit is overhauled to include only single rooms.

By contrast, some Manhattan hospitals that have a mix of private and shared maternity rooms charge from $550 extra a night for a basic private room to as much as $2,000 for a luxury suite, if the private accommodations are not deemed medically necessary.

At Long Island hospitals, converting shared spaces to private rooms is intended to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, an especially high priority since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit New York in 2020, hospital executives say. Under guidelines updated in 2018, the state Department of Health requires  all private rooms when hospitals build new facilities or conduct major renovations, unless a hospital gets an exemption because doing so would be cost-prohibitive or not feasible for other reasons, such as not having enough space for single-bedded rooms.

By adding private rooms, hospitals also are striving to meet patients’ preferences for privacy and comfort, and to gain a competitive advantage in Long Island’s crowded health care marketplace.

“All of the research indicates that patients do appreciate having that private time with their families, whether it's a joyous occasion like having a baby or a much more difficult one with someone who's ailing,” said Wendy Darwell, president and chief executive of the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State, a Hauppauge-based trade group. “It is a competitive market, and so any institution is going to look for advantages that might help it attract patients.”

For some hospitals, the increasing number of surgeries being conducted at outpatient centers instead of hospitals has freed up space to open private rooms, Darwell said.

In surveys, some patients say they enjoy socializing with a roommate. However, most tend to favor private rooms for a range of reasons, such as needing confidentiality to discuss medical or mental health concerns, feeling uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with a stranger, preferring quiet and solitude while healing or wanting to have visitors without worrying about disturbing a roommate. One study found that patients in private rooms reported being much more likely to recommend a hospital to friends and family compared with patients in shared rooms. 

Hazel Field, 69, who lives in Freeport, stayed in one of Mount Sinai South Nassau's private rooms after liver surgery.

“I feel good; I like being in the private room,” Field, a retired certified nursing assistant, said in a telephone interview from the room, where she said her family had sent flowers and she had a clear view of the window. “Especially when you’re in pain, you don’t feel like talking. You just feel like isolating yourself, and sometimes the other person talks a lot, so I feel better that I’m alone in this room.”

The most important considerations in choosing a hospital include safety and quality metrics such as infection rates, as well as whether one's doctor has privileges there, but patients who are seeking a private room could inquire about it, said patient advocate Nicole Christensen, CEO of Care Answered in Freeport. If a hospital meets a patient's standards, "then yes, why not have the ability to have your private room?" she said.

At Northwell Health’s Long Island hospitals, 38% of all beds — 1,097 out of 2,904 — are now in private rooms, Northwell said. Before the pandemic, patients who didn't have a medical need for private rooms could request them for nightly fees that ranged from about $100 to $600 at certain hospitals on Long Island, the New Hyde Park-based system said. Since the pandemic started, any patients in private rooms are there out of medical necessity so there are no additional charges, Northwell said. However, Northwell said its policies on optional private rooms will be re-evaluated after the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration expires on Thursday.

Insurers typically cover the cost of private rooms that are deemed medically necessary, such as isolation rooms for patients with contagious diseases or compromised immune systems, including those undergoing bone marrow transplants. In some cases, if a patient wants a private room but it is not deemed necessary, the patient could be required to pay an extra out-of-pocket fee. However, rooms in units that have all private rooms, or that are set aside for patients who require isolation, typically do not come with extra fees. 

Construction costs are higher for private rooms, in part because they can require more space for each bed, but they prevent so many infections and other costly problems that they ultimately end up saving money overall compared with double-occupancy rooms, research studies have found. A mitigating financial factor is that in hospital budgets, the construction costs are spread out over the decadeslong life span of a building.

"We believe this is a critical investment," said Jeffrey Kraut, executive vice president for strategy and analytics at Northwell. "This is what our patients want, and it allows us to provide a higher quality of care."

Maternity units have been an especially high priority for conversion to private rooms, with many moms-to-be seeking a homelike environment to heal, bond with their babies and welcome visiting family members.

For new parents, “you want as much privacy as possible, and you want to have a little bit of dignity as well,” said Dr. Monique De Four Jones, associate chief of labor and delivery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

Nearly all of Northwell’s Long Island maternity beds are in private rooms: 233 out of 237, with the exception of two shared rooms at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. Northwell converted many of its maternity beds from shared rooms in recent years when it conducted a $212 million overhaul of maternity units at six New York-area hospitals, including North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore and Huntington Hospital.

The private spaces include the room at North Shore where Farmingdale resident Keri Feldman stayed after giving birth to twins, Austin and Avery, last month. The renovated room includes a pullout couch where her husband Michael slept, and there was plenty of space for the babies’ 3½ year-old brother, Caden, and grandparents to visit, Feldman said.

Having a private room “made a world of difference” compared with sharing a room at another hospital after giving birth to Caden, Feldman said. “As a new mom, it's hard because you're figuring out the whole ‘momming’ process,” said Feldman, 33, a senior analyst at Northwell. “And then you have to share a room with somebody and try to be quiet and keep the baby quiet and not disturb somebody else’s space as well, [which] can be challenging.”

Rockville Centre-based Catholic Health also has been upgrading maternity and other units to offer private rooms. In March, it completed a conversion of its 36-bed maternity unit at Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip to all private rooms available at no extra cost, and it offers all private rooms in its renovated maternity unit at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. Catholic Health also has private rooms in the maternity units at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Center and St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown.

Angela Kelly, 32, who works as a speech language pathologist, gave birth in March at Good Samaritan, where she stayed in a private room. “My parents, when they came to visit after, they were astounded,” Kelly recalled. “They were like, ‘This whole room is just for you?’ ”

It was a difficult birth and her son, Miles, needed to stay in the newborn ICU, but having a private room “made it much more bearable,” said Kelly, who lives in Farmingdale. In the room, she spent time with her husband, Matthew, and other family members and had the undivided attention of nurses and lactation consultants who helped her recover physically and learn to use a breast pump while the baby was in the NICU, she said.

At Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, all 26 beds in the maternity unit are in private rooms, at no extra charge. The hospital is “trying to create a human experience that is comforting, that is compassionate, that is respectful, [and] it really demands that we look at privacy as a priority,” said Rita Regan, vice president for patient experience and care coordination at the hospital.

Stony Brook University Hospital’s 48 maternity beds also are all in private rooms, where mothers can "recuperate, bond with their newborns, and receive one-on-one education in a supportive environment," hospital officials said in a statement.

Long Island's only public hospital, Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, has 10 private rooms in labor and delivery and 10 in maternity, along with 40 based on medical or surgical need, all available for no extra charge.

NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola has applied for state Department of Health permission to do a $19.9 million renovation of its maternity unit that will include the creation of 10 private rooms without increasing the bed count. The hospital expects the renovated unit to open in late 2024, with the private rooms available at no extra cost.

In its application, NYU Langone stated that patient safety was “the driving force of building private patient rooms.” In addition to protecting patients from infectious diseases, the application states, private rooms “support patient centered care, improved patient visual and auditory privacy, access to daylight and views, improved sleep and overall patient satisfaction.” Until the renovated rooms open, the maternity unit makes private rooms available for an additional charge.

Hospitals also are adding private rooms in other units:

At , [object Object], ’s Long Island hospitals, 93% of all critical care beds are in private rooms, So are more than half of the system’s 111 Long Island pediatric beds, including all the pediatric ICU beds at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, More than half the rooms at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore and two-thirds of the rooms at Cohen Children's Medical Center are private, Northwell said, The single rooms are designed so they can be quickly converted to shared rooms if needed in a crisis, giving hospitals “greater flexibility and control” over how the rooms are used, Kraut said,  , , [object Object], University Hospital’s 225,000-square-foot pavilion that opened in 2019 has 150 private rooms, including 45 intensive care and  57 intermediate care rooms, The 48 beds in Stony Brook Children’s Hospital also are in private rooms, , At , [object Object], South Nassau, about one-third of the 343 beds occupied on a typical day are in private rooms, That includes its entire 23-bed surgical stepdown unit for patients who require special care and its 20-bed rehabilitation unit, all at no extra charge, The hospital also has private rooms in its telemetry remote monitoring units and in its emergency department, Private rooms also can be requested in other departments if space allows, for an extra charge of $295 a night, "As more and more equipment and technology is brought to the bedside … the spatial limitations of a two-bedded room become very inhibiting,” Regan said, As the hospital continues to renovate older units, Regan said, “we certainly want to convert to all private rooms,"  , , [object Object], has more than 200 private rooms available at no extra cost, and it expects to open more than 100 additional private rooms in 2025 at Good Samaritan's new $500 million pavilion, The St, Francis Heart Center at St, Catherine includes private rooms, and Mercy Hospital has private rooms for patients recovering from spine and bariatric surgery,   .

Private rooms are “definitely what a patient wants to see,” said Christine Flaherty, senior vice president for real estate development and facilities management at Catholic Health. "The entire industry is moving towards that standard." 

For hospital patients, the privilege of privacy used to be reserved for those willing and able to pay hundreds of dollars a night for single rooms.

That’s changing, as hospitals on Long Island convert a growing number of shared rooms into private accommodations. At some, as many as one-third to half of all beds are now in private rooms — or even more than half.

Maternity, intensive care, rehabilitation and pediatrics are among the units offering all-private rooms. Many of the new accommodations are available at no extra charge compared with the cost of staying in a shared room, particularly when an entire unit is overhauled to include only single rooms.

By contrast, some Manhattan hospitals that have a mix of private and shared maternity rooms charge from $550 extra a night for a basic private room to as much as $2,000 for a luxury suite, if the private accommodations are not deemed medically necessary.

At Long Island hospitals, converting shared spaces to private rooms is intended to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, an especially high priority since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit New York in 2020, hospital executives say. Under guidelines updated in 2018, the state Department of Health requires  all private rooms when hospitals build new facilities or conduct major renovations, unless a hospital gets an exemption because doing so would be cost-prohibitive or not feasible for other reasons, such as not having enough space for single-bedded rooms.

By adding private rooms, hospitals also are striving to meet patients’ preferences for privacy and comfort, and to gain a competitive advantage in Long Island’s crowded health care marketplace.

“All of the research indicates that patients do appreciate having that private time with their families, whether it's a joyous occasion like having a baby or a much more difficult one with someone who's ailing,” said Wendy Darwell, president and chief executive of the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State, a Hauppauge-based trade group. “It is a competitive market, and so any institution is going to look for advantages that might help it attract patients.”

For some hospitals, the increasing number of surgeries being conducted at outpatient centers instead of hospitals has freed up space to open private rooms, Darwell said.

In surveys, some patients say they enjoy socializing with a roommate. However, most tend to favor private rooms for a range of reasons, such as needing confidentiality to discuss medical or mental health concerns, feeling uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with a stranger, preferring quiet and solitude while healing or wanting to have visitors without worrying about disturbing a roommate. One study found that patients in private rooms reported being much more likely to recommend a hospital to friends and family compared with patients in shared rooms. 

No chatterbox in next bed

Hazel Field, 69, who lives in Freeport, stayed in one of Mount Sinai South Nassau's private rooms after liver surgery.

Hazel Field of Freeport stayed in a private room after surgery at...

Hazel Field of Freeport stayed in a private room after surgery at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside.  Credit: Hazel Field

“I feel good; I like being in the private room,” Field, a retired certified nursing assistant, said in a telephone interview from the room, where she said her family had sent flowers and she had a clear view of the window. “Especially when you’re in pain, you don’t feel like talking. You just feel like isolating yourself, and sometimes the other person talks a lot, so I feel better that I’m alone in this room.”

The most important considerations in choosing a hospital include safety and quality metrics such as infection rates, as well as whether one's doctor has privileges there, but patients who are seeking a private room could inquire about it, said patient advocate Nicole Christensen, CEO of Care Answered in Freeport. If a hospital meets a patient's standards, "then yes, why not have the ability to have your private room?" she said.

At Northwell Health’s Long Island hospitals, 38% of all beds — 1,097 out of 2,904 — are now in private rooms, Northwell said. Before the pandemic, patients who didn't have a medical need for private rooms could request them for nightly fees that ranged from about $100 to $600 at certain hospitals on Long Island, the New Hyde Park-based system said. Since the pandemic started, any patients in private rooms are there out of medical necessity so there are no additional charges, Northwell said. However, Northwell said its policies on optional private rooms will be re-evaluated after the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration expires on Thursday.

Insurers typically cover the cost of private rooms that are deemed medically necessary, such as isolation rooms for patients with contagious diseases or compromised immune systems, including those undergoing bone marrow transplants. In some cases, if a patient wants a private room but it is not deemed necessary, the patient could be required to pay an extra out-of-pocket fee. However, rooms in units that have all private rooms, or that are set aside for patients who require isolation, typically do not come with extra fees. 

Construction costs are higher for private rooms, in part because they can require more space for each bed, but they prevent so many infections and other costly problems that they ultimately end up saving money overall compared with double-occupancy rooms, research studies have found. A mitigating financial factor is that in hospital budgets, the construction costs are spread out over the decadeslong life span of a building.

'What our patients want'

"We believe this is a critical investment," said Jeffrey Kraut, executive vice president for strategy and analytics at Northwell. "This is what our patients want, and it allows us to provide a higher quality of care."

Maternity units have been an especially high priority for conversion to private rooms, with many moms-to-be seeking a homelike environment to heal, bond with their babies and welcome visiting family members.

For new parents, “you want as much privacy as possible, and you want to have a little bit of dignity as well,” said Dr. Monique De Four Jones, associate chief of labor and delivery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

Dr. Monique De Four Jones.

Dr. Monique De Four Jones. Credit: Northwell Health

Nearly all of Northwell’s Long Island maternity beds are in private rooms: 233 out of 237, with the exception of two shared rooms at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. Northwell converted many of its maternity beds from shared rooms in recent years when it conducted a $212 million overhaul of maternity units at six New York-area hospitals, including North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore and Huntington Hospital.

The private spaces include the room at North Shore where Farmingdale resident Keri Feldman stayed after giving birth to twins, Austin and Avery, last month. The renovated room includes a pullout couch where her husband Michael slept, and there was plenty of space for the babies’ 3½ year-old brother, Caden, and grandparents to visit, Feldman said.

Having a private room “made a world of difference” compared with sharing a room at another hospital after giving birth to Caden, Feldman said. “As a new mom, it's hard because you're figuring out the whole ‘momming’ process,” said Feldman, 33, a senior analyst at Northwell. “And then you have to share a room with somebody and try to be quiet and keep the baby quiet and not disturb somebody else’s space as well, [which] can be challenging.”

A private room at North Shore University hospital in Manhasset.

A private room at North Shore University hospital in Manhasset. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Rockville Centre-based Catholic Health also has been upgrading maternity and other units to offer private rooms. In March, it completed a conversion of its 36-bed maternity unit at Good Samaritan University Hospital in West Islip to all private rooms available at no extra cost, and it offers all private rooms in its renovated maternity unit at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. Catholic Health also has private rooms in the maternity units at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Center and St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown.

More bearable

Angela Kelly, 32, who works as a speech language pathologist, gave birth in March at Good Samaritan, where she stayed in a private room. “My parents, when they came to visit after, they were astounded,” Kelly recalled. “They were like, ‘This whole room is just for you?’ ”

Angela Kelly of Farmingdale, with her husband, Matthew, and their...

Angela Kelly of Farmingdale, with her husband, Matthew, and their son, Miles, stayed in a private maternity room at Good Samaritan University Hospital. Credit: Angela Kelly

It was a difficult birth and her son, Miles, needed to stay in the newborn ICU, but having a private room “made it much more bearable,” said Kelly, who lives in Farmingdale. In the room, she spent time with her husband, Matthew, and other family members and had the undivided attention of nurses and lactation consultants who helped her recover physically and learn to use a breast pump while the baby was in the NICU, she said.

At Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, all 26 beds in the maternity unit are in private rooms, at no extra charge. The hospital is “trying to create a human experience that is comforting, that is compassionate, that is respectful, [and] it really demands that we look at privacy as a priority,” said Rita Regan, vice president for patient experience and care coordination at the hospital.

Stony Brook University Hospital’s 48 maternity beds also are all in private rooms, where mothers can "recuperate, bond with their newborns, and receive one-on-one education in a supportive environment," hospital officials said in a statement.

Long Island's only public hospital, Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, has 10 private rooms in labor and delivery and 10 in maternity, along with 40 based on medical or surgical need, all available for no extra charge.

NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola has applied for state Department of Health permission to do a $19.9 million renovation of its maternity unit that will include the creation of 10 private rooms without increasing the bed count. The hospital expects the renovated unit to open in late 2024, with the private rooms available at no extra cost.

In its application, NYU Langone stated that patient safety was “the driving force of building private patient rooms.” In addition to protecting patients from infectious diseases, the application states, private rooms “support patient centered care, improved patient visual and auditory privacy, access to daylight and views, improved sleep and overall patient satisfaction.” Until the renovated rooms open, the maternity unit makes private rooms available for an additional charge.

Hospitals also are adding private rooms in other units:

  • At Northwell’s Long Island hospitals, 93% of all critical care beds are in private rooms. So are more than half of the system’s 111 Long Island pediatric beds, including all the pediatric ICU beds at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. More than half the rooms at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore and two-thirds of the rooms at Cohen Children's Medical Center are private, Northwell said. The single rooms are designed so they can be quickly converted to shared rooms if needed in a crisis, giving hospitals “greater flexibility and control” over how the rooms are used, Kraut said. 
  • Stony Brook University Hospital’s 225,000-square-foot pavilion that opened in 2019 has 150 private rooms, including 45 intensive care and  57 intermediate care rooms. The 48 beds in Stony Brook Children’s Hospital also are in private rooms.
  • At Mount Sinai South Nassau, about one-third of the 343 beds occupied on a typical day are in private rooms. That includes its entire 23-bed surgical stepdown unit for patients who require special care and its 20-bed rehabilitation unit, all at no extra charge. The hospital also has private rooms in its telemetry remote monitoring units and in its emergency department. Private rooms also can be requested in other departments if space allows, for an extra charge of $295 a night. "As more and more equipment and technology is brought to the bedside … the spatial limitations of a two-bedded room become very inhibiting,” Regan said. As the hospital continues to renovate older units, Regan said, “we certainly want to convert to all private rooms." 
  • Catholic Health has more than 200 private rooms available at no extra cost, and it expects to open more than 100 additional private rooms in 2025 at Good Samaritan's new $500 million pavilion. The St. Francis Heart Center at St. Catherine includes private rooms, and Mercy Hospital has private rooms for patients recovering from spine and bariatric surgery.  

Private rooms are “definitely what a patient wants to see,” said Christine Flaherty, senior vice president for real estate development and facilities management at Catholic Health. "The entire industry is moving towards that standard." 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • At some Long Island hospitals, private rooms make up one-third to half of all beds, or more.
  • Many are available for no extra charge, especially if a unit is all-private. 
  • Maternity units are among those being converted to all-private, as parents seek out homelike environments to bond with babies.
Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos, about his new book, “The Situation Room, The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis.” Host: NewsdayTV Anchor Jasmine Anderson

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Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos, about his new book, “The Situation Room, The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis.” Host: NewsdayTV Anchor Jasmine Anderson

Newsday Live: A Chat with George Stephanopoulos Newsday Live and Long Island LitFest present a conversation with the former senior advisor to President Clinton and co-anchor of "Good Morning America."

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