Eastern Long Island Hospital’s board of directors voted unanimously July 9 to begin the process of affiliating with Stony Brook University Hospital, merging the small, rural Greenport facility with an organization that boasts a $1.1 billion annual budget and hosts Suffolk County’s only level-one trauma center and academic medical center.
ELIH’s decision to merge with Stony Brook came after Riverhead’s Peconic Bay Medical Center voted to start its own process of joining North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, one of the nation’s largest health organizations, and about six months after Southampton Hospital also voted to affiliate with Stony Brook. Although ELIH was the last of the three East End hospitals to enter into an agreement with a larger organization, it had been in negotiations with both SBU and North Shore-LIJ for years.
“It was not a tough call to make,” said ELIH board chairman Thomas Murray. “At least, in the final weeks it wasn’t.”
Following the Berger Commission report, ELIH, PBMC and Southampton Hospital formed the East End Health Alliance. But the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare — has “made the effort toward focusing on the patient and the facility around the patient rather than the patient around the system,” said the hospital’s CEO, Paul Connor. Mergers have since ensued nationwide and the EEHA is being officially dissolved.
Stony Brook University Hospital and ELIH will now develop a “definitive agreement” that will lay out all the legal obligations each organization has to the other.