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Jul 14, 2008 9:59 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton Hospital to strike a new deal with Stony Brook University Medical Center

Jul 14, 2008 9:59 AM

Southampton Hospital has let its affiliation with the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System expire, opting to affiliate with Stony Brook University Medical Center instead.

Hospital President and CEO Robert Chaloner said he anticipates the new deal with Stony Book, which has been several years in the making, will be signed soon. The affiliation comes at the recommendation of the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, more commonly referred to as the Berger Commission.

The commission, which released its final report in December 2006, recommended that Southampton Hospital, Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport and Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead affiliate with Stony Brook to gain access to highly-specialized medical care known as tertiary care services. But even before the Berger Commission, Southampton had been taking a hard look at leaving New York-Presbyterian for Stony Brook.

Southampton’s affiliation with New York-Presbyterian, a tri-state federation of hospitals, began in January 2005 and expired on the first of this month.

Two years ago, John Kastanis, the interim CEO of Southampton Hospital at the time, explained that Stony Brook would not accept an affiliation while Southampton had an ongoing relationship with New York-Presbyterian. “It’s an all-or-nothing deal,” he said.

The New York-Presbyterian deal did not include any financial support, and Mr. Kastanis said New York-Presbyterian would not offer Southampton a sponsorship arrangement, which would be more integral than a simple affiliation, because the hospital carried some $40 million in debt. New York-Presbyterian had been stuck with the bill twice before when a couple of medical institutions went bankrupt, according to Mr. Kastanis. “By the time they negotiated with Southampton, they had been burned badly with those decisions,” he said.

A sponsorship would mean less independence for Southampton Hospital, but it would offer more financial stability and access to care than an affiliation.

Before its New York-Presbyterian agreement, Southampton was affiliated with North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, as were all three East End hospitals under the auspices of the now-defunct Peconic Health Corporation.

The East End hospitals’ relationship with North Shore-LIJ, which started in 1998, ended in 2004 after the network failed to convince the hospitals to become specialized facilities rather than full-service institutions.

Peconic Bay and Eastern Long Island both chose to affiliate with Stony Brook while Southampton picked New York-Presbyterian.

Back when the decision was made, Reverend Peter Larsen, the chairman of the Southampton Hospital Board of Directors, said the board did not favor Stony Brook because fund-raising was essential for the survival of the hospital and the community would not likely be as generous if the hospital was affiliated with a state-run facility.

In October 2004, when Southampton Hospital’s affiliation with New York-Presbyterian was announced, Dr. David Kirshy, the head of the hospital’s medical staff at the time, said the staff saw the agreement as a means for improving health care for the community. He also noted that membership in the network included affiliations with Columbia University Medical Center and New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. Affiliations with the two prestigious and Ivy League-associated hospitals would increase educational opportunities for the staff at Southampton and open doors to medical students who might decide to stay on staff, Dr. Kirshy said.

However, less than a year after the New York-Presbyterian started, Southampton Hospital was already looking into an agreement with Stony Brook, after the hospital board started hearing concerns from staff that the affiliation did nothing more than letting the hospital use New York-Presbyterian’s name.

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