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Mar 5, 2016 7:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State Will Give Plan For East Hampton ER Facility A $10 Million Boost

Southampton Hospital will receive $10 million in state grants to put towards a freestanding emergency room facility in East Hampton Town. ALYSSA MELILLO
Mar 8, 2016 4:50 PM

Southampton Hospital will receive a $10 million grant to help pay for a long-awaited satellite emergency room medical facility in East Hampton Town.

Southampton Hospital President and CEO Robert S. Chaloner said hospital officials were notified Friday afternoon that they would receive the funding later this year. The hospital would develop and operate the new facility as part of its planned relocation and construction of a new hospital on the Stony Brook Southampton campus in Shinnecock Hills, stemming from a newly minted partnership with Stony Brook University Hospital that still awaits final state approvals.

“We are very excited about this,” Mr. Chaloner said on Saturday. “Our goal is to improve health access for the whole region, and this is a major step forward that will help us toward that end.”

Mr. Chaloner estimated that the $10 million would be about one-third of the total funding needed for a stand-alone ER facility, although he said he could not provide specific costs for the project just yet.

He said the hospital has engaged a design firm to begin a needs study for the facility to determine how large the new facility would be, and where it could possibly be constructed. Hospital officials envision the new East Hampton facility to be an ambulatory care unit as well as serving as an ER, with space for physicians’ offices and medical support services that the hospital has an abundance of in Southampton Town, but that are scarce in East Hampton.

“The goal is to create a general expansion of services, to more evenly distribute services across the entire region,” Mr. Chaloner said. “It would be something people could utilize for anything.”

“Travel times are so daunting that [people] don’t get care sooner rather than later,” he said. “The feeling is that, if you treat people sooner … then they won’t require hospitalization.”

Earlier this year, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell had announced that the town and the hospital were engaged in discussions about identifying possible locations for a freestanding ER. This week, he said the news of the grant award, which essentially solidifies the plan, is “a complete game-changer” for the community.

“It will be an improvement of emergency medical services for everyone who lives in East Hampton,” Mr. Cantwell said. “It’s an enormous release [of] the pressures that are on our volunteer [ambulance crews]. Getting to an emergency room as quickly as possible is critical in a serious medical situation.”

Those involved with the ambulance companies that are the farthest east from Southampton Hospital agreed that an ER facility in East Hampton Town would help out both patients and volunteer emergency medical service providers.

“The benefits are going to being incredible—they really are,” said Springs Fire District Commissioner Pat Glennon, who oversees the ambulance squad there. “As long as it’s a full-functioning emergency room … and as long as it takes everyone’s insurance, I think it’s going to be great.”

Mr. Glennon explained that as the traffic on Montauk Highway increases every year, it has taken longer for ambulances to get to the hospital. For the Springs squad, he said, the average call yields a 2½-hour turnaround from the moment volunteers head out to when they return to headquarters. When he first began volunteering in 1990, it took no more than an hour and a half. “Now, it’s a half day’s work,” he said.

Calls take about three hours for volunteers in Montauk, according to ambulance captain Ken Alversa. Mr. Alversa said that an ER facility within the town would cut call times in half and ultimately “help with overall retention of volunteers.”

“I think that the $10 million is a tremendous first step in what really should have been out here for a long time. We would’ve loved to have seen a freestanding emergency room out here years ago,” he said.

In formally announcing the grant on Tuesday, State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said that an ER facility is “long overdue” for East Hampton Town, as did State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. “It’s going to save many lives—I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Mr. Thiele said. “I think we’re seeing big changes in health care being undertaken on the South Fork.”

The legislators said the grant was through the state’s Capital Restructuring Financing Program, a $1.2 billion grant program through the State Department of Health and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and the Essential Health Care Provider Program, a $355 million program focused on rural and geographically isolated hospitals.

Mr. Chaloner said that the primary focus of modern medicine is to reduce the number of expensive extended hospital stays by making it easier for people to seek out and receive medical care before conditions become critical. The long travel times to Southampton facilities for those farther east are seen as a major hurdle in accomplishing that.

“Every day I make the drive—I know what’s it like,” added Mr. Chaloner, who lives in Northwest Woods. “I can only imagine if you were in the middle of a heart attack or a stroke … every mile probably feels like 100 miles.”

Construction of the facility is likely several years out, as Mr. Chaloner said the project would be paired with the planned relocation of Southampton Hospital to the Stony Brook Southampton campus in Shinnecock Hills. The entire process is something both Stony Brook and Southampton will carry out “carefully and deliberately.”

“My dream is that in five years we’ve got this facility and we’ve got the new hospital,” Mr. Chaloner said. “The state is helping a lot here. If it spurs the major philanthropic effort needed … we can really set up the East End for great health care for the next hundred years.”

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Congratulations! This is such great news for the East End.
By Dodger (157), Southampton Village on Mar 5, 16 8:57 PM
There is no doubt that the residents of the East End are long overdue for a more comprehensive and accessible health care facility. This commitment by the state will go a long way in moving the process forward. However, the success of this endeavor ultimately resides in more than the brick and mortar from which it will emerge. The community as a whole and all potential patients deserve quality and, more importantly, value from the health care system that serves them. Our current health care system ...more
By plfmd64 (1), Boston on Mar 6, 16 11:33 AM
Long overdue, though other hospitals (mt sinai, ny-presby, LIJ northshore) have offered to set up far more than emergency services here, they just have been roadblocked by Southampton hospital. LIJ and Mt Sinai will even offer home visits (like the old days) and connect to their expert specialists in the city. SH Hospital just wants to channel patients to their facility, which (as we all know) lacks specialists, and caters to uninsured service workers. As the Press reported on Saturday, they gave ...more
By HamptonsHealthConsumers (1), Southampton on Mar 6, 16 12:45 PM