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Eastern Long Island Hospital Affiliates With Stony Brook University Hospital: The Little Hospital That Could!

Eastern Long Island Hospital is located in Greenport. (Courtesy Photo: ELIH)

Enjoying a recent chat with Paul Connor, President and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital (ELIH) in Greenport, regarding their affiliation with the well-known Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH), Connor candidly and refreshingly revealed information that is positive, encouraging and important to those community members who have long viewed ELIH as "their" hospital.

Paul Connor, President and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital. (Courtesy Photo: ELIH)

"It is critical that ELIH continue its 111-year mission," he noted. "We are the first hospital in Suffolk County and the second hospital on Long Island, and this affiliation will allow us to continue to serve the community in the manner that we have for all these years."

Connor continued, "This is just the beginning, and our affiliation will make more services available to the communities of the North Fork and Shelter Island, and allow us to keep excellent health care local."

This little hospital that could was the first voluntary hospital in all of Suffolk County, and provides access to quality care by land, air and sea thanks to a community-planned Emergency Dock. Enhancements to the hospital in the last few years have included state-of-the-art enhancements to ambulatory surgery, diagnostic imaging and the addition of a spine program.

"We will become a functioning component of SBUH. This affiliation will bring Stony Brook sub-specialists to our medical staff. Our goal is to create a hub where community members receive more medical services at our location and distribute services from SBUH into the community to keep health care local. ELIH will continue to offer the same services, but we will have the ability to offer additional services, including simple and/or complex spinal surgery, access to SBUH surgeons such as colorectal surgeons, including Paula Denoya, MD and Roberto Bergamaschi, MD who have already joined the ELIH medical staff. There will be many specialists coming to ELIH based on demand as we are developing a practice site for these doctors and accessing more services within the health care system."

Additionally, Connor commented, "From an economic viewpoint, hospitals are typically the largest employers in their geographic area as is ELIH. Presently ELIH contributes approximately $80 million annually to the economy for both the North Fork and Shelter Island, so many economic benefits are driven to the community which brings a significant factor to the table."

ELIH's Board of Trustees. (Courtesy Photo: ELIH)

When asked about next steps, Connor confirmed, "We are going through an approval process now with the State of New York which is quite lengthy, but we should see the end of that process by mid-2017. Southampton Hospital is getting close to closing on their agreement (also with SBUH) which should occur in early 2017, and we will follow."

Connor stressed that it is most important that community members remember that the long standing and successful works of the Foundation, which "Has raised over $15 million in the past 12 years now becomes independent with the same mission - raising money that stays locally and stays in the community as it always has."

In response to a few questions, Connor responded:

What assurances does ELIH feel are most important to relay to those who have relied on their community oriented hospital for generations?

PC: We think the community will be pleased to know that our mission has not changed. Our culture of caring and safety record will continue to make an impact on those who need our care.

In addition to those services mentioned above, what additional medical services will now be available that you could confirm?

PC: Future plans include the addition of surgical sub-specialists in advanced urology, vascular surgery, pulmonology, gynecology and hematology/oncology who will see patients at the new physician practice site located in Southold.

How and where can community members and/or potential patients find out what services are offered where?

PC: The community can access the hospital's newly updated website at www.elih.org, subscribe to our hospital newsletter or call the Community Relations Office 631-477-5164 for any specific information. Hospital tours can also be scheduled for those interested in seeing our facility.

How important is the role of technology in patient services?

PC: Very important. ELIH just acquired the latest technology in early detection for breast cancer with the addition of a 3-D mammography/tomosynthesis system. Tomosynthesis takes multiple images of the breast from many angles and produces clear, highly focused 3-dimensional images often eliminating the need for follow up exams. These and other technologies will allow ELIH to provide care with greater efficiency now and in the future.

Finally, in our present day society that has seen medical costs and coverage skyrocket, and where many citizens feel lost in a labyrinth of paperwork and large medical facilities, how will this affiliation undertake to assure community members they are receiving the finest medical care in the most cost effective manner?

PC: The affiliation enhances care at ELIH and helps us meet the evolving health care needs of the communities of the North Fork and Shelter Island. By bringing Stony Brook Medicine physicians to the East End of Long Island, local residents will have local access to surgical sub-specialists from a world-renowned academic medical center.

Thank-you for your candor and reassurances that our little hospital that could can and will roll smoothly along into a new era.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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