The former campus of Southampton College could become the new home of Southampton Hospital under an agreement being negotiated between Stony Brook University, which owns the campus, and Southampton Hospital, officials announced Monday.
Representatives with Stony Brook, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system and Southampton Hospital, which is privately run, have signed a non-binding letter of intent in which Southampton Hospital “would join the Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system, as the two hospitals work more closely to improve healthcare quality,” officials said.
Stony Brook Medicine is the healthcare system that runs Stony Brook University Hospital.
Under the proposal, Southampton Hospital would provide care under Stony Brook University Hospital’s state operating license, officials said.
The initial part of the agreement is the forming of a stronger partnership between the two hospitals that would enable Stony Brook to expand its educational programs on the Southampton campus, according to Dr. Samuel Stanley, Stony Brook University president.
The plan also calls for launching a major philanthropic campaign to raise the money to build the new hospital on the “Stony Brook Southampton” college campus, which has been largely unused since 2010.
The estimated cost would be in the $200 million to $250 million range, said Southampton Hospital president and chief executive officer Bob Chaloner at press conference Monday outside the hospital.
“This will enable us to determine what is the best way to care for patients,” said Dr. Ken Kaushansky, the dean of the Stony Brook School of Medicine. “Community hospitals like Southampton have all that wonderful experience with care for patients in a community setting, and together we learn how to care for patients.
“As for as education, we need to train more primary care physicians and I can think of no better way to entice and illustrate to our medical students and our residents what practice in the community is like than to practice here at Southampton Hospital.”
Mr. Chaloner said he expects the agreement with Stony Brook to be finalized within the next six to 12 months.
Construction of a new hospital at the Southampton College campus is likely to take three to five years.
The proposed hospital would likely have between 90 and 100 beds, less than the 120 beds currently at Southampton Hospital, because medical care has shifted more toward outpatient care in recent years, Mr. Chaloner said.
“The infrastructure here is ancient, and to replace it is going to be more expensive and disruptive than building new,” he said. “This hospital was built mainly as an inpatient hospital and healthcare has changed and is more ambulatory now.”
The college campus is about 80 acres, but only between nine and 14 acres would be needed for the hospital he said, adding that officials haven’t identified a specific location on the campus either.
Also unknown at this point is what would happen with the existing Southampton Hospital building, parts of which were built in 1909.
Mr. Chaloner said it was discussions regarding the new hospital that led to the agreement on strengthening the hospital’s partnership with Stony Brook.
That arrangement is not contingent on building the new hospital, he said.
“We already have a very loose affiliation with Stony Brook, but this would really bring us right smack square into the system,” Mr. Chaloner said.
He said the other two East End hospitals, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, also are discussing strengthening their affiliation with Stony Brook.
In order for the new alliance to move forward, they need an agreement between the two hospitals, as well as an agreement with the East End Health Alliance, which comprises the three East End hospitals, Mr. Chaloner said.
In addition, in order to build on the college property, which is state owned, approvals will likely be needed from the state health department and the state Legislature, Mr. Chaloner said.
Another “tricky part” of the agreement will be working out an arrangement between the two employee unions, since Stony Brook is a public entity and Southampton Hospital is private, said State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who represents the East End.
A press release issued Monday said the Southampton Hospital employees would retain their status as private-sector employees and would also retain all of their collective bargaining rights.