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New Island Hospital to join Catholic Health Services

New Island Hospital, one of Long Island's two remaining stand-alone community hospitals, is joining Catholic Health Services.

The move, which will be formally announced Tuesday, will help protect the 203-bed nonprofit in Bethpage from the buffeting economic climate, said the hospital's chief executive, Dr. Aaron Glatt.

"When you're a small ship, you're much more vulnerable to a big squall," said Glatt, who pointed to Gov. David A. Paterson's recent budget proposal to cut $1 billion in health care statewide as an example.

Glatt said the hospital, which has 800 employees, is in good financial shape - a comeback from the late 1990s when it had been in bankruptcy. That made it attractive to other health care systems. North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and NuHealth, which includes Nassau University Medical Center, had also been talking with the hospital.

"Integration is a sign of the times," said Kevin Dahill, president of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council. "It makes a great deal of sense."

Glatt said the board of directors voted unanimously Wednesday to join Catholic Health Services because it most closely aligned with New Island's mission to serve its community of 300,000 to 400,000.

Christine Hendriks, spokeswoman at Catholic Health Services, said New Island was attractive to the Catholic network because of its location and financial stability. The network, which includes five other hospitals, three nursing homes, and a home care and hospice network, has about 23 percent market share on the Island.

"Our other hospitals are east and west," Hendriks said. "They [New Island] provide a nice link."

The hospital must follow Catholic Health Services' ethical and religious directives on health care, which preclude abortion, sterilization or contraceptives. But Glatt said that would have little impact at New Island, which doesn't have an obstetrics service or outpatient gynecology clinic and doesn't offer abortions or routine gynecological care.

In 1996, the hospital, then known as Mid-Island Hospital, went into bankruptcy. In 1999, it was renamed and put under the joint sponsorship of Winthrop-South Nassau University Health System and Catholic Health Services. The affiliation sparked controversy among community groups because the hospital would no longer provide abortion or contraceptive services. In 2005, the arrangement ended and the hospital was on its own.

The only remaining stand-alone hospital on Long Island is Long Beach Medical Center, Dahill said.

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