Peconic Bay may go the way of Stony Brook or North Shore-LIJ

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.

Stony Brook Medical Center’s chief executive officer, Dr. Reuven Pasternak, confirmed the discussions, saying in an email that the hospital is looking “to expand [its] existing relationships” with the two East End hospitals.

Terry Lynam, a spokesman for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, said that officials with Peconic Bay and Eastern Long Island would “determine the time frame” of any negotiations.

Mr. Lynam said those discussions began in early summer 2014.

Peconic Bay and Eastern Long Island are the only Long Island hospitals currently in talks with North Shore-LIJ, he said.

The North Shore LIJ system is the nation’s 14th largest healthcare system, comprising 17 hospitals and nearly 400 walk-in clinics and physician practices, according to its website.

It also has its own insurance company: North Shore-LIJ CareConnect Insurance Company, Inc., which is offered on the New York State of Health insurance marketplace, which was put in place by the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Lynam said such consolidations have “much to do with the [insurance] reimbursement model.”

“I think, in healthcare, the whole delivery model nationally is clearly changing,” he said. “There is much greater focus on managing the overall health of an individual, as opposed to simply treating them when they get sick.”

Mr. Lynam said the way to successfully work within that new model is to offer a wide-range of health services, which includes outpatient care, such as nutrition and wellness, and critical care, such as emergency medicine, which happens through an in-patient hospital setting.

“The whole idea is to be able to improve care coordination,” he said. “As a health system, we offer this whole range of different services… and we are trying keep all of the services within the network.”

In April, Andrew Mitchell, PBMC Health’s president and CEO told the News-Review the Riverhead hospital was feeling that change — and reported experiencing a shift in demand from inpatient services, provided in a hospital setting, to a greater demand in outpatient services, provided at clinics and doctor’s offices.

The change in demand forced the Riverhead hospital to trim some of its hospital staff, while hiring additional employees in its outpatient settings, one being its new ambulatory care center in Manorville, according to prior News-Review coverage.

At the same time, Paul Connor, president and CEO of ELIH, had said the Greenport hospital was also looking for opportunities to reduce hospital-operating costs, while hoping to capitalize on its newly offered outpatient surgery options.

Mr. Mitchell could not be immediately reached for comment, but is quoted in a Newsday story that was published today, Thursday, as saying PBMC Health “is in active discussions with Stony Brook and North Shore-LIJ.”

Mr. Mitchell and an Eastern Long Island spokeswoman told Newsday both hospitals hoped to reach decisions by early next year.

Mr. Connor was unavailable for comment, as he is out of the country.

Should any of the community hospitals affiliate with Stony Brook University Hospital, the partnership would allow Stony Brook to expand educational opportunities — including its residency program — as the hospital is a New York State educational corporation.

Mr. Lynam said that if either PBMC or ELIH were to affiliate with North Shore-LIJ, the health system would have to go through state and federal regulatory approval processes.

Different approvals are be needed depending on the nature of the agreement, he said.

Robert Chaloner, president and CEO of Southampton Hospital said “positive discussions” are continuing with Stony Brook University Hospital.

“Due diligence must take place in order for the partnership to be beneficial to both hospitals and to the community,” he said. “At this point, there are still a number of standard reviews that must be completed to ensure a strong alliance for the future.”

Stony Brook University Hospital announced affiliation talks with Southampton Hospital in October 2012, when both signed a non-binding letter of intent.

Of the Southampton partnership, Stony Brook spokeswoman in March said “a preliminary draft agreement has been prepared and is awaiting approval by the SUNY Board of Trustees. While we are optimistic about enhancing the affiliation, there has been no final agreement to date.”

According to the October announcement, there is potential for a new hospital on the Stony Brook University’s Southampton Campus, which would replace its current 125-bed facility, which opened in 1909.

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