Hospital plans to join Stony Brook system

Southampton Hospital in Southampton. Stony Brook University and Southampton Hospital in Southampton. Stony Brook University and Southampton Hospital, both in Southampton, announced that they are forming an alliance that will result in a new hospital for the East End. Stony Brook will give Southampton part of Stony's Brook's Southampton campus to build the new hospital. (Sept. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Southampton Hospital would join Stony Brook University Hospital's health care system in six to 12 months and a new hospital could be built on the school's Southampton campus in three to five years, hospital officials said Monday.

The two organizations formally announced a nonbinding letter of intent in which the East End hospital, which has been affiliated with Stony Brook since 2008, would operate under Stony Brook's license. Southampton will raise funds to build a new facility on the university's campus about 4 miles from the current hospital.

The move, hospital executives and legislators said, would improve health care on the East End, be an economic boon and provide a training ground for Stony Brook medical students.

"It's a win, win, win," Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said at a news conference in Southampton Monday.

Southampton Hospital chief executive Robert Chaloner said a new facility would probably have fewer beds -- 90 to 100 compared with the 125 it currently has -- and would cost about $225 million. He said it has yet to be determined where the new facility, to be built on 12 to 14 acres of the 85-acre campus, would be placed.

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"We're still working on the location," he said. As for the current facility, he hoped it could be used for senior housing.

Southampton Mayor Mark Epley said village officials have had informal talks with the hospital about future use of the current facility, but no firm plans have been made.

Having a new hospital and getting rid of the noise of ambulances and parking problems near the estate section of the village would be an improvement, he said. But the village would lose some tax revenue from medical offices, which would be expected to move closer to the new facility. "On the whole, I think it's a good thing," he said.

Chaloner and Stony Brook's medical school dean, Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, said many hurdles remained. "You know how people keep saying 'there's much work to be done?' Well, there's much work to be done," Kaushansky said.

Among them are approval by many state agencies, including the Department of Health, the controller's office and attorney general's office, as well as legislation that would allow Stony Brook to lease the state land to Southampton Hospital.

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Kaushansky said he envisioned the lease would be long term and that the deal would not cost Stony Brook money.

One question mark is the future of the other two East End hospitals -- Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. They, along with Southampton, belong to the East End Health Alliance, formed in 2008.

Kaushansky said Stony Brook has been in preliminary talks with the other two hospitals about a similar operating agreement -- a move endorsed by state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who said for the past 20 years he has envisioned Stony Brook at the "hub of a wheel in which the community hospitals are the spokes."

Given changes in health care, "we need to be part of a larger system," said Paul Connor, Eastern's chief executive. While a closer affiliation with Stony Brook is logical, "it's incumbent on us to pick the very best option," he said.

Chairman Bobby Goodale said the health alliance has to approve the Southampton-Stony Brook venture. "We want to make it clear the alliance hasn't gone away," he said.

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With Mitchell Freedman

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