01/21/15 12:00pm
01/21/2015 12:00 PM

Despite news that Southampton Hospital is one step closer to merging with Stony Brook University Medical Center, officials of the East End Health Alliance say their association with the South Fork hospital is intact — at least for now.

Formation of the Alliance — established in part to offer community hospitals better leverage in dealing with large insurance companies and to minimize competition among facilities — was recommended in a 2006 report by the Berger Commission, a state panel that examines health care capacity and resources in New York State.

Last Tuesday, the State University of New York Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with an affiliation that, once finalized, will allow Southampton Hospital to provide care under Stony Brook’s state operating license.

Any agreement would require the approval of multiple state regulatory authorities, including the state Department of Health, Attorney General’s office and state comptroller, according to a Stony Brook press release about the decision.

Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital — the other members of the East End Health Alliance — are also pursuing affiliations with a larger health system and are currently in talks with both Stony Brook and North Shore-LIJ.

If all three East End hospitals do not choose to align with the same larger system, “the Alliance would disestablish,” said ELIH president and CEO Paul Connor, an Alliance spokesman.

Alliance members met most recently Dec. 14, when they finalized a new contract with Empire Blue Cross that took effect Jan. 1, Mr. Connor said.

“No determination has been made to end the Alliance,” he added.

Disbanding it would require coordinated meetings and conversations by the organization’s board, said Demetrios Kadenas, chief development officer for PBMC Health.

The potential mergers are a response to new insurance reimbursement methods brought about by the Affordable Care Act, which now place a value on the quality and outcomes of care provided instead of the extent of care, Mr. Connor said in a release.

“ELIH has much to gain in terms of financial stability by partnering with one of these [larger systems],” he said.

Stony Brook officials are now working to file a Certificate of Need with the state health department that will be evaluated to ensure services align with community needs, according to the health department website.

Andrew Mitchell, president and CEO of PBMC Health, said that “as an integral member of the East End Health Alliance, we look forward to reviewing the Southampton Hospital-Stony Brook transaction when it is brought forward to the Alliance.”

Mr. Kadenas said Southampton Hospital’s affiliation “currently has no impact on PBMC Health and does not affect any current collaboration between PBMC Health and [Stony Brook].”

Mr. Connor added, “Until Stony Brook and Southampton gain all the requisite approvals, ELIH will not be impacted.”

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10/23/14 4:04pm
10/23/2014 4:04 PM
Peconic Bay in Riverhead

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

Officials from Stony Brook Medical Center and North Shore-LIJ medical care systems confirmed reports Thursday that they are in affiliation talks with both Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital.

The news comes two years after Southampton Hospital announced that it’s been in talks with Stony Brook. (more…)

10/16/14 1:00am
10/16/2014 1:00 AM
Police investigate the scene of an shooting on McKinley Street in Flanders Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Police investigate the scene of a shooting on McKinley Street in Flanders Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Update (12:30 p.m. Thursday): The two men arrested in connection with Wednesday’s shooting in Flanders were arraigned Thursday morning and held without bail. Click here for details.

Update (1 a.m. Thursday): Two men were arrested in connection with Wednesday’s shooting in Flanders, according to a Southampton Police press release.

Kwame Opoku, 32, of Mastic Beach was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree criminal use of a firearm, and first-degree reckless endangerment, police said. (more…)

07/23/14 5:00am
07/23/2014 5:00 AM

The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood donors, noting the agency could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks if donations don’t increase.

According to an agency release, blood donations have gone down by about 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.  (more…)

05/04/14 3:16pm
05/04/2014 3:16 PM
Fellow bikers assist police and ambulance personnel on the scene of a two motorcycle crash on Sound Avenue in Riverhead Sunday afternoon. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Fellow bikers assist police and ambulance personnel on the scene of a two motorcycle crash on Sound Avenue in Riverhead Sunday afternoon. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

A motorcyclist was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center after he was injured  in a two-motorcycle crash in Riverhead Sunday, Riverhead Town police said.


04/29/14 3:21pm
04/29/2014 3:21 PM
(Credit: Paul Squire)

A woman was airlifted from a crash in Calverton Tuesday as a precaution. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A T-bone collision in Calverton sent three women to local hospitals, with one woman being airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center “as a precaution,” police at the scene said. (more…)

04/27/14 5:00am
04/27/2014 5:00 AM


Shorts and flip-flops are almost mandatory components of the summer wardrobe. But those dealing with hard-to-conceal varicose veins are often left sweating in long pants. Doctors say understanding the cause of varicose veins and responding with the appropriate treatments can help prevent this seasonal dilemma.  (more…)

03/09/14 6:00am
03/09/2014 6:00 AM
Carrie Miller

Carrie Miller

A new painkiller that packs large amounts of hydrocodone into a single pill has quickly become one of the most controversial medications in years to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, as health officials debate whether its benefits outweigh the likelihood of being abused.

Zohydro, which is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Zogenix Inc., is comparable to the painkiller Vicodin, said Dr. Brian Durkin, director of the Center for Pain Management at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

But unlike Vicodin, which has between five and ten milligrams of hydrocodone in a single pill, Zohydro can contain up to 50 milligrams depending on the prescribed dose — making it up to five times more powerful than the highest dose of Vicodin currently on the market.

In addition, unlike Vicodin and other opioid painkillers, Zohydro pills do not include an embedded tamper-resistant mechanism, meaning abusers can easily crush them and snort them or dissolve them in a liquid to be injected.

“We’re risking having another Oxy-Contin crisis,” said Dr. Durkin, recalling a 1996 spike in prescription drug abuse that occurred after another hydrocodone pill hit the market without a tamper resistant mechanism.

In 2010, OxyContin was reformulated to include a system in the pill that prevents people from crushing it. “It turns into a paste,” he explained.

“We’re going in the opposite direction of where we should be for these dangerous drugs,” the doctor said. “I am surprised they approved it.”

Dr. Durkin isn’t the only one: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) held a press conference Monday calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to reverse the “confounding” FDA decision or at least pull the drug until it is tamper-resistant.

Anti-addiction activists have also called on the FDA to revoke its approval of the controversial drug.

Overdose deaths in the U.S. due to prescription painkillers have increased 300 percent since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, 2 million people — nearly 5,500 each day

— reported using prescription painkillers the fi rst time for nonmedical purposes.

In Riverhead, Community Awareness Prevention executive director Felicia Scocozza said she has seen an increase in prescription drug abuse since she started at the nonprofi t in 1999. While rates of abuse are lower in Riverhead than in the rest of the county, she said, “across Long Island, it’s becoming a huge problem.”

Zohydro, which could hit the market sometime this month, was granted FDA approval in October — despite an overwhelming 11-to-2 vote against that approval by the FDA’s advisory committee, Dr. Durkin said.

So what is so special about the new drug? Dr. Durkin said he isn’t really sure.

“There are plenty of drugs on the market now that are just as good,” he said. “I don’t see any need for this. Not these days.”

Hydrocodone is the most prescribed pain medication in America, given most often following surgery, Dr. Durkin explained — but for longterm chronic pain management, its use is still “controversial.”

“Frankly there are other drugs that have better efficacy and better patient safety profi les than hydrocodone,” he said. “I don’t see myself needing to prescribe this.”

On Monday, Pamela Mizzi, director of prevention with the Suffolk County Resource Center, said she agreed.

“It’s a legitimate controversy,” she said. “On one side, you have the addiction professionals — and I’m a substance abuse counselor — who feel strongly that there is not the need for another variety of hydrocodone to be available. Especially without the anti-tampering preparation.

“But on the other hand,” Ms. Mizzi said, “there are people who have legitimate needs for pain and pain management.”

Dr. Durkin and Ms. Mizzi said the only advantage of Zohydro they can see is that it does not include acetaminophen (tylenol), which some patients cannot have. But there are still other usable alternatives.