Long Island Community Hospital CEO Richard Margulis this week told...

Long Island Community Hospital CEO Richard Margulis this week told employees in an email that the facility is exploring a merger with Stony Brook University Hospital.  Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island’s last independent community hospital is a step closer to agreeing to join a larger health system.

Brookhaven-based Long Island Community Hospital’s chief executive said in an email this week to staff that the hospital is “focusing” on a possible affiliation agreement with Stony Brook University Hospital.

The board of directors has given CEO Richard T. Margulis clearance to sign a letter of intent with Stony Brook to “begin due diligence,” Margulis said in the email, a copy of  which was given to Newsday and verified by a source close to the situation. 

A letter of intent “is not a definitive contract, but rather a document that summarizes the main points of a proposed deal, and signifies a genuine interest in reaching the final agreement subject to due diligence,” Margulis wrote.

In a joint statement, Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of health sciences and dean of Renaissance School of Medicine, and Dr. Margaret McGovern, vice president for health system clinical programs and strategy at Stony Brook Medicine, wrote, "Both entities see the enormous benefits of working together to serve the health care needs of Suffolk County and are looking forward to further advancing their respective goals as Suffolk County’s only academic medical center and Long Island Community Hospital's mission as a community hospital." 

In the email, Margulis said the letter of intent is one step in a “lengthy process.”

The Island’s other former independent hospitals have said they’re saving tens of millions of dollars in their operating budgets by leaning on their health system parents — including Stony Brook, Northwell Health and Mount Sinai Health System — to buy medical supplies in bulk, implement updated technology and negotiate contracts with managed-care companies.

Stony Brook in recent years has expanded its hospital and ambulatory network throughout Suffolk County. Stony Brook Southampton Hospital officially joined the health system in 2017 after a process that lasted nearly five years. The deal required multiple state regulatory approvals.

Stony Brook also recently opened a 240,000-square-foot cancer center located on Stony Brook University’s East Campus, adjacent and connected to the main hospital. The construction project is part of a larger expansion that also includes a children’s hospital.

Other health systems have also expanded recently by taking over formerly independent hospitals. For example, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson became part of Northwell Health in January 2018. At about the same time, Oceanside-based South Nassau Communities Hospital joined Manhattan-based Mount Sinai Health System.

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