04/10/14 3:00pm
04/10/2014 3:00 PM
Peconic Bay in Riverhead

The entrance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. (Credit: file photo)

North Fork hospitals are seeing a transformation in the local health care market — with demand shifting from inpatient services, provided in a hospital setting, to outpatient services, provided at clinics and doctor’s offices.  (more…)

04/08/14 10:00am
04/08/2014 10:00 AM
Peconic Bay in Riverhead

The entrance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. (Credit: file photo)

Peconic Bay Medical Center has eliminated 12 administrative positions as a result of declining patient admissions, a hospital spokesman said this week.

Another 40 vacant positions will also be eliminated from the health care facility’s budget, according to vice president of External Affairs Demetrios Kadenas.

A hospital press release said the decrease in patient volume is “likely attributable to the implementation of elements of the Affordable Care Act, the extreme winter and insurance changes across the region.”

Read more in the April 10 News-Review newspaper.

For the period of January to February 2014, Long Island hospitals saw a decline of nearly 3,600 admissions, a trend felt on the East End, according to the release.

At the same time, PBMC Health saw significant increases in certain new services, including its Urgent Care Center on the Feil Campus in Manorville — which is currently operating at a level 80 percent higher than originally anticipated, Mr. Kadenas said.

“Clearly, there is a shift from inpatient care to outpatient services in certain instances,” he said.

Over the course of the coming months, Mr. Kadenas said hospital officials will evaluate the impact of lost positions and what is required to fulfill the services they pertain to.


03/23/14 11:00am
03/23/2014 11:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | (left to right) Town Councilman John Dunleavy, Maureen O'Connor, program director of the Cancer Services Program of Eastern Suffolk County at Peconic Bay Medical Center, Dr. Claire Bradley, board president of American Cancer Society Eastern Division, Dr. Brett Ruffo, colorectal and general surgeon at PBMC, Sherry Patterson, chair of PBMC Health foundation, Joseph Abbate, colorectal cancer survivor, Dennis McDermott, owner of The Riverhead Project, Legislator Al Krupski, Janine Nebons, general manager of Tanger Outlets, and town councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

(left to right) Town Councilman John Dunleavy; Maureen O’Connor, program director of the Cancer Services Program of Eastern Suffolk County at Peconic Bay Medical Center; Dr. Claire Bradley, board president of American Cancer Society Eastern Division; Dr. Brett Ruffo, colorectal and general surgeon at PBMC; Sherry Patterson, chair of PBMC Health foundation; Joseph Abbate, colorectal cancer survivor; Dennis McDermott, owner of The Riverhead Project; Legislator Al Krupski; Janine Nebons, general manager of Tanger Outlets and town councilwoman Jodi Giglio. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

What you put into your body must eventually go down and then come out, making a healthy colorectal tract indispensable.  (more…)

02/14/14 9:00am
02/14/2014 9:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58.

Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58. (File photo by Barbaraellen Koch photo)

East End hospitals are now accepting six out of eight insurance plans offered to Suffolk County residents through the state’s healthcare exchange marketplace, according to hospital officials.


01/05/14 10:00am
01/05/2014 10:00 AM
Peconic Bay in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | At Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, individuals dealing with epilepsy met recently to discuss their experiences.

Sitting around a conference table at Peconic Bay Medical Center on a recent Monday evening, a group of eight individuals met to discuss experiences with a somewhat common disorder — epilepsy.

A person who has two or more “unprovoked” seizures is considered to have epilepsy. While many factors, such as a high fever or lack of oxygen, can cause seizures, those happening without such causes are attributed to epilepsy.

One in 10 adults will suffer from a seizure sometime during their lives, according to the nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation, and epilepsy is the third most common neurologic disorder in the United States after Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Group members, ranging from sufferers’ aunts and grandmothers to those living with the disorder themselves, each gave advice based on their own experiences — offering fellow group members a common sentiment: “You’re not alone.”

“We’re out here on the East End, and it can feel like we are alone. It is very hard sometimes,” said Charlie Peterson, who has been dealing with epilepsy for most of his life.

He started the Riverhead group so people could seek support from local community members.

Learning from those immediately affected by epilepsy is often just as important as hearing from health professionals, he said.

In people with epilepsy, instead of the brain’s sending electrical energy in an orderly manner, brain cells keep firing, causing a surge of energy through the brain. This surge often results in a seizure, according to the nonprofit. More than six different types of seizures are commonly associated with epilepsy and can include convulsions, muscle spasms and altered consciousness, but they can also be just odd sensations and brief episodes of staring into space, according to the foundation.

A woman named Charlene was visiting the group for the first time, seeking information on how to help her 6-year-old grandson, who was recently diagnosed with epilepsy.

He had a pacemaker-like device implanted in his chest, a treatment known as vagus nerve stimulation, something most group members had experience with themselves. Those with the implant hold a magnet-like tool up to their chest to activate the treatment, which delivers electrical stimulation to the brain to help when they feel a seizure coming on.

“He calls it his magic wand, and keeps it in his pocket,” Charlene said, adding that her grandson has been having trouble getting the device out of his pocket in time to activate it.

A man named Patrick, who volunteers with a North Fork fire department, offered some advice, noting that the magnets can be altered and set into bracelets, so that all the boy would have to do would be to hold is hand to his heart.

Patrick himself had dealt with the very same issue, he said.

Other topics discussed during the meeting included medications, diet and surgery options, along with some of the personal challenges each person had dealt with in recent weeks.

The support group is free and open to all. For more information contact Mr. Peterson at 740-1476 or 728-2804.

Got a health question or column idea? Email Carrie Miller at cmiller@timesreview.com. Follow her on twitter @carriemiller01.

12/30/13 3:00pm
12/30/2013 3:00 PM
Peconic Bay in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The entrance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.

Between opening up a new campus in Manorville in September and major changes in health care on the horizon, 2013 was a busy year for PBMC Health chief executive officer Andrew Mitchell.

Going into his 13th year on the job at the Riverhead-based facility, Mr. Mitchell has had to remain as flexible as ever as changing federal health care regulations dominated much of the industry in the past year.

Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO Andrew Mitchell.

But Mr. Mitchell was able to take a few minutes to fill the News-Review in on where the industry may be headed next year, while reflecting on what 2013 brought about for PBMC Health.

Q: Shortages in primary care have been reported nationwide. Do you believe that trend is affecting North Fork residents? If so how?

A: We’ve made major investments in primary care. We have numerous practice sites that are sponsored by the medical center all over the North and South forks and while we believe that primary care shortage is an issue, we are working diligently to ensure that residents have access to outstanding primary care physicians. We employ probably 15 or so primary care physicians who are distributed between the North and South forks.

Q: What types of outpatient care and/or facilities do you believe area residents are lacking most?

A: I don’t think it’s outpatient care they are lacking. I think the most significant issue is the lack of an advanced cardiac catheterization unit for East End residents. Patients who require cardiac catheterization, either on an emergency or elective basis, have to travel great distances to get that care, putting — quite frankly — their lives at risk.

When you look at the makeup of our population and the incidence of heart disease, it is absolutely the number one health issue for residents of the East End.

Q: Should area residents be more concerned than before about their likelihood of contracting a tick-borne disease?

A: No. I think virtually all of our primary care and infectious disease physicians are highly aware of the diseases associated with ticks and are very vigilant about monitoring patients for those potential diseases.

Q: The CDC calls antibiotic resistance ‘one of our most serious health threats.’ What steps is the hospital taking to ensure the safety of its patients?

A: It goes way beyond the hospital. We see ourselves today not as a hospital but as a fully integrated health system with ambulatory campuses, physician offices, home health agency, a skilled nursing facility — I could keep on going down the list. So antibiotic selection, antibiotic usage and the whole issue of antibiotic resistance is a focal point of the entire continuum of care of PBMC Health. Through our pharmacy and therapeutics committee and our quality management program, we look very carefully at the use of antibiotics, We look very carefully at their use in association with surgery and, since we are a health system, in the ambulatory and physician office environment as well.

Q: What concerns you most regarding the implementation of health care reform come January?

A: The change is happening very rapidly and implementation of health care reform has not always been happening according to the originally stated plan, so that requires health care systems like PBMC Health to adapt to the unplanned changes very quickly and to be very nimble in the current environment. So whether it’s the delayed implementation of the health care exchanges, the decision that small business doesn’t have to participate for another year — all those have an impact on the health system, and we need to make adjustments.

Changes being made by Medicare outside health care reform are happening just as dramatically and are causing us to make significant changes to the way we, and all hospitals, have to operate. That has to do with the so called “observation status” that has been created by Medicare.

Q: PBMC recently opened and continues to work on the Manorville campus. How will this advancement help handle the expected influx of patients with health care reform?

A: Health care reform is clearly changing the way the health care industry is proving care by incentivizing preventive and ambulatory care. So we think of the Manorville campus, The Gertrude & Louis Feil Campus, as our model ambulatory campus and we think it’s the wave of the future. I think one piece of really interesting data is that we’ve already seen volume levels that we anticipated in the third year of operation in what is now the third month.

It’s interesting; we’re seeing what’s clearly a national trend where convenience is very important to patients. What we’ve seen right out of the gate is a very, very high utilization of our urgent care center, where patients can walk in and get care without an appointment in an expeditious way – and not have to worry about taking a day off of work … I think in Manorville, because there was such a lack of physicians’ offices in the region, that what we’re really just seeing there is the actual demand from the community.

We plan to open more of these facilities in 2014.

Q: Are there any exciting changes or advancements planned for 2014?

A: We’re planning on continuing to expand our Manorville campus. Manorville has already been a success and it’s not even completed. We’ll be opening two more buildings on the campus in 2014 so it will be almost three- quarters completed next year. We’re looking to replicate that in other parts of the service area. We do have a multi-campus plan.

On the main campus we have some technology upgrades and program upgrades in surgery. We expect to open a surgical progressive care unit, another private room unit for higher acute surgical patients.

In 2014 we are going to focus our philanthropic initiatives around the growth of an endowment for the health system and we anticipate some major gifts that will allow us to build the surgical progressive care unit and upgrade our intensive care unit.

We’re also in the middle of a cosmetic remodeling of all the inpatient units. The private room inpatient units in the Kanas Center were received so well we are starting to replicate that appearance in the rest of the inpatient rooms.