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Mar 16, 2011 11:07 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Hospital Interested In Moving To College Campus

Mar 16, 2011 11:07 AM

A new, state-of-the-art hospital built on the Stony Brook Southampton campus would mesh well with collegiate offerings, provide an economic boost to the East End, and allow for the modernization of an aging Southampton Hospital, President and CEO Robert S. Chaloner said this week.

Because the fate of the 82-acre college campus in Shinnecock Hills remains uncertain since budget cuts led to the shuttering of many of the school’s academic programs and dormitories last year, and litigation wends its way through the courts, talks about its future are still very preliminary.

In an interview on Friday at the hospital, Mr. Chaloner noted the tentative stage of discussions but also voiced enthusiasm for the notion of the hospital becoming part of the campus’s future.

“We are watching very enthusiastically from the sidelines at this point to see if that’s a possibility,” Mr. Chaloner said of a possible move, noting that he was pleased to have been asked by Stony Brook University officials and various elected officials if the hospital would consider a relocation to the site.

“We’re clearly interested in being considered as part of the solution—and we think we can be a part of the solution over there, too. We really can help re-enliven it,” Mr. Chaloner said. “We, like everybody, would like to see a vibrant college there. We think it’s good for the community, and hospitals and colleges work nicely together, so we’d be pretty excited about that.” He cautioned, however, that he plans to wait for the legal processes to play out.

The idea of building a new hospital predates Mr. Chaloner’s leadership, but it was “back-burnered” when the economy took a dive. And while the hospital has not been actively seeking new sites in large part because of the economic climate, Mr. Chaloner said, the opening up of the college campus has re-energized that effort in terms of the campus.

A site owned by the Elks Lodge on County Road 39 has not been ruled out as a possible site for a new hospital, although it has access on just one side, is less desirable than the campus, and talks regarding having the hospital there have not been active in some time, he said.

Southampton Hospital, at more than 100 years old, was built more for inpatient use rather than the ambulatory care that it tends to provide more often now, the CEO said. Even the use of double-bedded rooms is an outmoded medical center feature now, he said, and the operating rooms also could use an upgrade.

Every way hospital officials have sliced and diced the numbers, the conclusion is that a new building would be a better solution than a renovation.

The campus is attractive because of its easy access from two highways—Montauk Highway on the south and County Road 39 on the north. Working with a college could present a number of opportunities for medical students and residents. And both the construction and operation of a larger hospital would provide jobs.

When asked if the hospital would remain a community hospital or fall under an umbrella of the university, Mr. Chaloner replied that the hospital would never lose its identity, although there are plenty of possible relationship structures and nothing had been ruled out.

Lauren Sheprow, a Stony Brook University spokeswoman—when asked about the status of the discussions regarding Southampton Hospital’s potential relocation to the campus—issued an e-mail statement that said Stony Brook University Medical Center and Southampton Hospital already have a strong partnership and that Stony Brook and Southampton Hospital have routine, ongoing discussions on a number of topics, such as clinical needs within the community.

“We are willing to further explore the ideas that have been proposed by elected representatives and will continue to explore all options within the context of community and regional needs, as well as available resources,” her e-mail stated. “Right now, discussions are extremely preliminary, especially in light of the executive budget proposal eliminating $55 million direct state support and zeroing out any new construction or capital improvement funding to Stony Brook University Hospital.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., in a phone interview this week, said he and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle are highly supportive of the hospital being located on the campus and that he thinks there is a “good” possibility of it happening. Such a move of Southampton Hospital from Southampton Village to the college campus would accomplish at least two goals: the hospital would get the chance to build a properly sized, state-of-the-art facility, and the college could expand its curriculum, he said.

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Turn an environmental campus into a parking lot. Yeah, that'll fly.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Mar 17, 11 4:14 PM
everybody's chomping at the bit for that property. the growing 800 member student body & college that were already there & illegally kicked out seem to be just so much collateral damage. but even with this, there is still room enough to restore them at that campus
By ts (71), southampton on Mar 17, 11 9:46 PM
A hospital in no way fits into the mission of a small liberal arts college. Nor would it fit into the two-story nature of that neighborhood. Plus, hospitals bring in a lot of characters. Do you really want them on a campus with 18 year old college kids?
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Mar 18, 11 10:25 AM
We knew this was coming last year, when they shut us down. It is up to the community to fight this now. I can't believe people believe a faux arts college idea to appease white rich Hamptons with a Hospital is better than have the visionary ideal of keeping a publicly funded Sustainable Studies Program and Sustainable campus on our very delicate environmental ecosystem.

You want medical waste going into Shinnecock Bay? So much for clamming!
By renaspromise (2), Shelter Island on Mar 18, 11 1:05 PM
There is a difference between "better" and "economically sustainable" SBS wasn't economically sustainable.

As for medical waste going into Shinnecock Bay - that's an ignorant comment on so many levels. Do you think that a hospital would have a drain that pipes directly to the bay? Do you think that the current location of the hospital (a block from a pond which is adjacent from the Ocean) is better? Upgrading to a new facility would have a beneficial impact on the local environment.

Not ...more
By Nature (2952), Hampton Bays on Mar 19, 11 3:59 PM
Southampton Hospital is obsolete, inadequate and needs to be replaced as do its North Fork iteration and the Peconic Bay "Medical Center" in Riverhead. They need to be replaced by a regional medical center. The Southampton College property is inappropriately sited for this purpose. Relocating Southampton Hospital the the campus would put paid on any attempt to bring eastern Long Island medical facilities into the 21st century.
By highhatsize (3290), East Quogue on Mar 18, 11 2:54 PM
maybe there is no regional medical center out there bcause there is no 4 yr university out there. they usually go hand in hand
By ts (71), southampton on Mar 19, 11 2:12 AM
a hospital would "mesh well with collegiate offerings on campus?"

and how might that work?
By concerned east ender (48), Sag Harbor on Mar 20, 11 8:09 AM