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Eastern Long Island Hospital board OKs affiliation with Stony Brook University Hospital

Eastern Long Island Hospital's board of directors has

Eastern Long Island Hospital's board of directors has voted unanimously to affiliate with Stony Brook University Hospital. The hospital is seen here on Oct. 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Eastern Long Island Hospital's board of directors has voted unanimously to affiliate with Stony Brook University Hospital.

The decision by the 21-member board on Thursday night makes the 90-bed Greenport hospital the second of the three East End hospitals to affiliate with Stony Brook. It also brings to a decisive end the East End Health Alliance formed in 2008 by the three hospitals.

In 2012, Southampton Hospital announced it would merge with Stony Brook, a process still wending its way through required state regulatory approvals.

In March, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead said it is joining the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

Eastern Long Island's chief executive, Paul Connor, said it was a difficult decision for the board. The hospital, founded in 1905, also had been in talks with North Shore-LIJ.

"This was a horse race until the last month or so," Connor said.

He said the board believed Stony Brook would allow Eastern Long Island, the North Fork's largest employer, to "continue on our mission to address evolving health needs of our community." The hospital has 410 staff members.

The merger, which will mean an expansion of services, could add jobs, he said. No money will exchange hands in the deal.

For the past two decades, Connor said, Stony Brook has provided psychiatrists for the Greenport hospital's psychiatric unit and neurosurgeons who perform spinal surgery.

"This model of bringing specialty care to the region is consistent with the trend in medicine," he said.

Dr. Reuven Pasternak, chief executive of Stony Brook, agreed.

"Eastern Long Island has a very long tradition of service to the community," he said, and Stony Brook can be a partner and steward of that mission.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who is in Italy teaching students, was elated when he learned the news early Friday, said Joann Scalia, his chief of staff.

"This unanimous decision ensures that people on the North Fork and Shelter Island will continue to receive expert medical care close to home," LaValle, a Stony Brook supporter, said in a statement.

Connor said he believes the state approval process will take about a year -- much quicker than it has been for Southampton.

"We think since the template has been forged and SUNY and all the other entities are familiar with it . . . it should be quicker and easier," he said.

Pasternak said although he hopes state approval will come in one year, it may take longer.

He said he believes the Southampton-Stony Brook merger will be complete by year's end.

The SUNY board of trustees approved that deal in January -- a big hurdle -- but the two hospitals are awaiting approval from the state attorney general's office, state comptroller and state Department of Health.

Eastern Long Island faces the same approval process.

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