East End Health Alliance votes to begin process of dissolving

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

Less than a week after PBMC Health publicly announced its plans to join North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Center, the East End Health Alliance voted to begin the process of breaking down the three-hospital relationship formed seven years ago.

Alliance chair Patricia Stewart, a board member with Southampton Hospital, confirmed news of the agency’s decision on Thursday afternoon.

In order for PBMC to move forward with North Shore-LIJ and for Southampton Hospital to officially merge with Stony Brook Medicine — and, once it decides, for Eastern Long Island Hospital to partner with a larger health system — each hospital must first officially disband from the East End Health Alliance, which was officially formed in June of 2008 to give the community hospitals more bargaining power as a single entity.

Now, a trail of paperwork and processes begins, according to Ms. Stewart — starting with last night’s vote.

“This is a process that is expected to take many months,” said Ms. Stewart. “It involves a lot of regulatory bodies up in Albany.”

Paul Connor III, the president and CEO of ELIH who has long spoken on behalf of the health alliance, said last week that the process could take six to eight months in total until the paperwork is reviewed and approved.

“There are a series of approvals that the health department will be having to approve, which basically, A — allows those hospitals to move out of the alliance, and, B — allows the hospitals to move into those other relationships,” he said. “Within that, the disestablishment of the alliance will also have to be approved.”

Mr. Connor’s hospital is the only one of the three in the East End Health Alliance that has yet to publicly announce its future plans. He says ELIH is in talks with North Shore-LIJ and Stony Brook, and he expects the board to make its decision by the end of May.

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