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Southampton Hospital joins 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

Southampton Hospital is joining with the Stony Brook University Hospital's health system and plans to build a new medical facility on the university's Southampton campus.

The two hospitals have signed a nonbinding letter of intent, to be announced Monday, stipulating that the Southampton facility would operate under Stony Brook's license.

Southampton -- a 125-bed hospital that has shared some clinical services with Stony Brook since 2008 -- would raise the funds to build the new facility from private donors.

No cost figures were provided.

Political and hospital officials said the closer alliance could provide a needed boost to health care on the East End and, if a new hospital is built, help the area's economy.

"The proposed affiliation between Stony Brook and Southampton represents an opportunity to provide expanded services and the best possible health care for the residents of the South Fork and eastern Long Island, an area that has historically been described as medically underserved," said Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor).

The move could give the underused Southampton campus a new purpose and help solidify Stony Brook's position as the anchor for Suffolk health care.

"This proposal represents an unparalleled opportunity to build on our collaboration to provide care in ways that are even more complementary, efficient and effective," said Stony Brook University president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr..

The new institution would "provide a valuable teaching and research environment" for students, he said.

Robert Chaloner, Southampton Hospital's chief executive, said the proposal is "a fantastic opportunity to bring together the intimacy and accessibility of a high-quality community hospital" with the resources of an academic medical center.

Many specifics remained unclear, including whether any money will change hands and whether Southampton will retain its board of directors. Also undetermined is what the collaboration means for the East End Health Alliance, which includes Southampton and the other two regional hospitals, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.

Southampton Hospital's more than 1,000 employees would remain private sector employees and keep their collective bargaining rights, according to Stony Brook.

University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said state regulatory agencies would have to approve the agreement. "We have yet to reach the point where we would engage these agencies because we are still at a very early stage," she said.

As for where on the 85-acre campus a hospital might be built, Sheprow said "the exact location is yet to be finalized." The campus is about 4 miles from Southampton Hospital.

Stony Brook bought the Southampton campus from Long Island University in 2006 for $35 million and put millions more into it. But in April 2010, facing state budget cuts, Stony Brook announced it would close much of the campus.

Six students sued the university. In a settlement announced in August 2011, the university was required to keep its environmental sustainability program open through spring 2014. The campus now includes a marine science station and research programs in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences with more than 500 students.

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of Stony Brook's School of Medicine, said using private donations to build a new hospital on university land would be a "terrific partnership opportunity . . . without creating a cost burden" to the SUNY system.

But Randy King, chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation board of trustees, said the tribe had never relinquished ownership of the land "which was outright stolen from us in a fraudulent 1859 land transaction."

"Although our land claim is still active, we seek to have meaningful conversation with those engaged in charting the college's future and we have tribal members involved in the process," he said. Tribal member the Rev. Michael Smith, pastor of the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church, is a member of Southampton Hospital's board of directors.

Legislators lauded the plan.

"Building a state-of-the-art hospital on the campus will improve health care delivery in the region, provide educational programs and training and stimulate the area's economy," said State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

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