SUNY Committee Gives Unanimous OK to LI Hospitals' Merger

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Newsday
January 14, 2015
SUNY Board Unanimously Approves Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital Merger
by RIDGELY OCHS

Hospital officials and legislators were elated by the SUNY board of trustees' unanimous approval Tuesday of a merger between Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital.

Dr. Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University, called the affiliation a "win-win."

"This is an extraordinarily important first step," he told the 18-member board in Albany. "This will enhance our ability to compete successfully in a very crowded marketplace."

Stony Brook and Southampton announced in October 2012 a nonbinding letter of intent in which the 125-bed East End hospital would operate under the 603-bed Stony Brook hospital license. The deal still must be approved by the state Department of Health, the attorney general's office and the state comptroller's office -- a process that Stony Brook University Hospital chief executive Dr. Reuven Pasternak said could take up to a year.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said he was "on cloud nine."

"It will bring an infusion of specialty care for the East End, and I think in a very short period of time will erase its medically underserved status," he said.

State Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) agreed. "I think it's a game changer for health care on the East End," he said.

Southampton Hospital chief executive Robert Chaloner called the vote "historic," and Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said the affiliation would "expand medicine and medical innovation by enhancing education and research" and provide clinical training sites.

Under the agreement's terms, the East End hospital retains its board of directors but Chaloner will become chief administrative officer, working for Stony Brook.

Southampton's union employees -- about 80 percent of the 850 full-time staff members -- will remain in their current union, 1199 SEIU. Also, 25 of Southampton's 125 beds will be transferred to Stony Brook.

No cash will be exchanged. Instead, Southampton will lease its facilities to Stony Brook.

SUNY trustees insisted that any capital improvements for the East End hospital will have to come from money generated by Southampton, not the state. That, in effect, delays plans to build a new hospital on Stony Brook's Southampton campus, which were announced when the merger first was made public in 2012.

Pasternak said Tuesday he believes it would be several years before a hospital could be built.

Officials attributed SUNY's stipulation on capital improvements -- as well as the long time getting trustees' approval -- to what LaValle called "the LICH effect." SUNY Downstate Medical Center lost millions after its affiliation with financially strapped Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, which closed in May.

"It has cast such a pall," LaValle said. "We dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't' multiple times."

LaValle and Thiele said the approval may help Stony Brook in separate talks with Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. Each is in discussions with Stony Brook and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System about mergers.

"Now there is a template available to show the other two hospitals it can be done," Thiele said.

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Capital New York
January 14, 2015
DONE DEAL

After more than two years of deliberations, the SUNY board of trustees on Tuesday voted to approve an affiliation between Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital on Long Island. Stony Brook and Southampton will have a long-term affiliation deal, which will mean the 125-bed Southampton Hospital and its 1,000 employees will operate under a lease agreement with Stony Brook. It will not be owned outright by Stony Brook University. http://capi.tl/1AY59Nk
...Why this matters: The deal means the likely dissolution of the East End Health Alliance but there remains competition over its parts. Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital are being courted by both Stony Brook and North Shore-L.I.J. Bob Chaloner, president of Southampton Hospital, said the alliance was always intended to be a stepping stone to strengthen the hospitals until they affiliated with larger partners. "Even though there's three hospitals, we're still small hospitals and we just don't have the critical mass on our own, so I do think that ultimately that [the East End Health Alliance]will dissolve," he said.

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Newsday
January 13, 2015
SUNY Committee Gives Unanimous OK to LI Hospitals' Merger
By RIDGELY OCHS

A SUNY trustees committee voted unanimously Monday to approve the long-planned merger of Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital.

The full 18-member SUNY board is expected to vote on the deal Tuesday in Albany. The four-member Academic Medical Centers and Hospital Committee's vote came after a presentation by SUNY staff liaison Stephanie Fargnoli.

Dr. Reuven Pasternak, Stony Brook's chief executive, said he was "gratified by the unanimous vote" and looks forward to the full board's action Tuesday.

Southampton Hospital chief executive Robert Chaloner said he was "very, very pleased" with the vote and also hopeful for board approval.

The deal must be approved by various state agencies, including the state Department of Health, the attorney general's office, and the state comptroller's office, a Stony Brook spokeswoman said.

Stony Brook and Southampton announced in October 2012 a nonbinding letter of intent in which the 125-bed East End hospital would operate under the 603-bed Stony Brook hospital license and become a second campus for Stony Brook Medicine.

Under the terms of the agreement presented Monday, no cash would be exchanged.

Southampton would lease its facilities to Stony Brook. Southampton would retain its board of directors, but Chaloner would become chief administrative officer, working for Stony Brook. Southampton's union employees -- about 80 percent of the 850 full-time staff members -- would remain in their current union, 1199 SEIU.

Also, 25 of Southampton's 125 beds would be transferred to Stony Brook. Chaloner said Southampton operates below capacity, and Fargnoli told the committee that Stony Brook needs more beds and that the addition would generate revenue.

Chaloner also said a plan to build a $225 million hospital on Stony Brook's Southampton campus remains alive. In 2012, officials for both institutions put forward that prospect.

"The new campus is an option preserved in the deal," he said. "Once we have completed this, it's something we would be working, planning and fundraising for, absolutely."

When it was announced, the deal was promoted as a way to boost health care on the East End and help solidify Stony Brook's position as the anchor for Suffolk health care. Officials also said it could give Stony Brook's underused Southampton campus a fresh purpose and, with a new hospital, help the East End economy.

The other two East End hospitals, Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, said they remain in talks with Stony Brook and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System about possible mergers.

Hospital officials initially said they thought the deal could be completed in a year, but then said it proved to be more complicated. Others said SUNY Downstate Medical Center's loss of money after its affiliation with financially strapped Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, closed in May, made the SUNY trustees more cautious about this deal.

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Capital New York
January 13, 2015
END OF THE ALLIANCE?

SUNY's board of trustees is expected to vote today to absorb Southampton Hospital into Stony Brook University Hospital, a merger first touted more than two years ago. SUNY's move could be the beginning of the end for the East End Health Alliance, which also includes Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital. North Shore-L.I.J. remains in discussions with those two hospitals and expects to hear something formal within the next 30 to 60 days, said Terence Lynam, a spokesman for L.I.J. "We are respectful of the local decision-making process," Lynam told me. "These are important decisions that both boards have to make, and we recognize and appreciate the fact that they are taking their fiduciary responsibilities seriously." The two hospitals could also follow Southampton's path.

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