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Eastern Long Island Hospital’s board of trustees votes to join forces with Stony Brook University Hospital

Eastern Long Island Hospital’s board of trustees voted today to join forces with Stony Brook University Hospital.

The hospital will affiliate with Stony Brook subject to the successful completion of the definitive agreement and all regulatory and other approvals, a release put out by ELIH stated.

“Our board has deliberated over the past several months and has focused on a strategic partner that will assist ELIH in fulfilling its mission and that will best address the evolving healthcare needs of our community,” said Thomas E. Murray, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees for ELIH. “We believe by joining Stony Brook University Hospital, the stewardship of the hospital’s mission to care for the residents of the North Fork of Long Island is in good hands.”

Paul J. Connor, III, president and CEO of ELIH said an immediate collaborative planning effort will commence between ELIH and Stony Brook to develop a long-term strategic plan.

“While the delivery of healthcare and especially hospital care is rapidly changing, becoming a part of Stony Brook University Hospital will allow ELIH to make this complex transition while continuing to carry out our long-time promise to the community. The hospital has been here for 110 years and this affiliation will ensure that the healthcare needs of the community are met for years to come,” he said.

In March, after a decision was announced by Peconic Bay Medical Center to join the North Shore-LIJ network, ELIH said it was still negotiating, according to Connor.

“We have been and will continue to negotiate with North Shore-LIJ and Stony Brook,” Connor said at the time, stating that the initial timeline for a decision was the end of May.

“Each partner has their own set of requirements. Our overarching focus is that we are the first hospital in Suffolk County; we’re 110 years old. We have a significant history and mission to our community in the Town of Southold and Shelter Island. Our goal is to go with whatever partner that will continue that mission to the evolving health needs of the community,” he said in March.

He added, “Our board is very committed to taking the extra time to make sure we make the right decision. We have a lot riding on it.”

When PBMC’s board of directors voted  to join the North Shore-LIJ system, the decision extending North Shore–LIJ’s presence into eastern Long Island for the first time.

Other Suffolk hospitals already in the North Shore-LIJ system are Huntington Hospital, Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and South Oaks Hospital in Amityville.

The decision came after “an exhaustive strategic planning process,” PBMC chairwoman Sherry Patterson said in a press release announcing the vote.

The agreement would “establish important new regional medical services and provide long-term stability for our patients during a time of great volatility in the healthcare market,” Patterson said.

PBMC was an affiliate member of the North Shore-LIJ health system between 2000 and 2006. It has since become affiliated with Stony Brook University Hospital, which provides emergency department and radiological services in the Riverhead hospital. PBMC’s affiliation agreement with Stony Brook expires in 2016.

PBMC is also a member of the East End Health Alliance, a three-hospital alliance formed by PBMC, Eastern Long Island Hospital and Southampton Hospital, which bargains as a group with health insurance companies.

ELIH joins Southampton Hospital, which announced on Oct. 1, 2012 that it had signed a non-binding letter of intent with Stony Brook University Hospital that began the process of becoming part of the Stony Brook health system. In January, the State University of New York trustees approved the affiliation between Stony Brook and Southampton.

State Sen. Ken LaValle has advocated for the three East End Hospitals to become part of the Stony Brook Health System. He calls the idea “a regional plan that I have made a priority throughout my career.”

At the Oct. 1, 2012 press conference where Southampton and Stony Brook announced their letter of intent, LaValle said he expected both Eastern Long Island Hospital and PBMC to agree to enter the Stony Brook system within a year. He said both North Fork hospitals had already begun discussions with Stony Brook.

A Stony Brook-led health system, taking in the three East End hospitals as well as Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue was the recommendation of the NYS Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century — commonly referred to as the Berger Commission — in its 2006 final report.

Last October, PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell acknowledged the hospital was in “active talks” with both Stony Brook and North Shore-LIJ. He said the hospital trustees would be guided by which partner offered more to the community PBMC serves in the way of programs and services.

“The decision made tonight by Eastern Long Island’s board to pursue an affiliation with Stony Brook is an important first step towards advancing our collaboration to ensure that residents of the North Fork of Suffolk County and beyond, have continued access to high-quality coordinated care close to home,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

“We are grateful to SUNY’s visionary leadership in its support of our continued work to establish agreements with community hospitals in Suffolk County for the care of Long Island residents,” added Reuven Pasternak, MD, chief executive officer, Stony Brook University Hospital, and vice president for health systems, Stony Brook Medicine.