After nearly a decade of discussion, state approval for a pending partnership between Southampton and Stony Brook University is expected soon.
Robert Chaloner, Southampton Hospital’s president and CEO, said on Friday that although the state’s regulatory staff is in the process of reviewing the proposal—which would bring the local hospital entirely under Stony Brook’s operating license while preserving the community aspect of the hospital—he expects the state to sign off on the merger within a “matter of days or weeks.”
“I think it’s a waiting game,” Mr. Chaloner said. “Nobody is saying it doesn’t make sense. I mean, it’s what the community wants out here—both institutions want it. [Stony Brook] can provide clinical oversight, expertise, the research capability and we can provide the community setting to really be innovative in a way that they can’t. It just makes so much sense that nobody thinks it’s not going to get approved.”
State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle could not immediately be reached for comment for a state update on the proposal.
The potential merger has been under discussion for more than nine years, much longer than the typical one to two years it takes to form a partnership between two private hospitals. Mr. Chaloner said he believes that because Stony Brook is a state organization, state officials are taking longer to approve the merger in order to thoroughly review the application.
“Our deal is kind of unique,” Mr. Chaloner said. “If it were two private hospitals coming together, the state would look at it and say we’re doing everything right—there’s not really an exposure to the state if things go wrong. In our case, if something went wrong or the deal were put together improperly, that creates an exposure for New York State. That’s one of the reasons why they are taking a much closer look than they would in another circumstance.”
The long-term vision surrounding the deal is the eventual construction of a new Southampton Hospital on the 82-acre Stony Brook Southampton campus in Shinnecock Hills, which is slated to take up about 13 acres of the campus. Fundraising to build the new Southampton Hospital facility on the campus, a plan that relies on the merger, would begin as soon as the state gives the go-ahead, Mr. Chaloner said on Friday.
Other partnership efforts between the two hospitals, including a fully integrated cancer center that would bring Stony Brook’s clinical trials out to the Hamptons, as well as continuing Stony Brook’s family medicine residency program run at Southampton Hospital, are not reliant on the merger, he said.