The merger of Peconic Bay Medical Center and the newly rebranded Northwell Health won’t mean the local hospital will play second fiddle to the bigger health system, said Northwell president and CEO Michael Dowling.
Instead, it’s bringing the hospitals together as one “family.”
“This is a new beginning,” he said. “We are coming together as one … This is a marriage, but there is no possibility of divorce.”
The local hospital officially joined Northwell Health — formerly known as North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System — at a signing ceremony Tuesday morning.
And that new partnership is already paying dividends, PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said. High-tech radiology services linking the health system are now available and multi-million dollar projects for a new emergency room, helipad, trauma center and cardiac catheter services have been sent off for state approval.
The construction on those expansions at PBMC could begin by next year and would make a big impact for the roughly 200,000 residents surrounding the health center, he said.
“Today marks … a new era in healthcare for central and eastern Suffolk County,” Mr. Mitchell said. “An era that will transform the largest hospital and health system in the East End — and that’s what we’ve become — into truly a regional medical center.”
PBMC — Riverhead Town’s biggest employer — announced it would merge with then-North Shore-LIJ last March after a two-year negotiation with the health system. This merger comes as other hospitals across the area — like Southampton Hospital and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport — have joined with larger health organizations. Namely, both opted to join Stony Brook Hospital.
Northwell Health employs over 50,000 people across 19 hospitals from Bay Shore to Staten Island. In addition to its medical facilities, the system also runs its own health insurance network, CareConnect.
The health system ditched its old name this past month to embrace the partnership between its hospitals, including PBMC, Mr. Dowling said. Care centers involved with Northwell Health will keep their names, adding the Northwell Health logo beneath.
“It’s all one,” he said.
As part of the merger, patients at PBMC will have access to care from other parts of the Northwell network.
“It’s not just about all the new medical facilities,” said Supervisor Sean Walter, who pledged to support the hospital. “It’s about the people of the East End.”
PBMC’s new radiology lab in Manorville has already been outfitted with remote capabilities that allow the 120 radiologists in the health care network to work remotely with doctors on the East End, said Jason Naidich, executive director of imaging services at Northwell Health.
The radiology center has also been integrated into the health system’s network, meaning patients can have a “continuity of care” no matter where they get treatment, he said.
Mr. Naidich said radiologists will be available around-the-clock. The local hospital will also be adding a “cutting-edge” interventional radiology division, which will use imaging tools in combination with surgery to provide fast, minimally invasive care, he added.
PBMC is also planning to expand, Mr. Mitchell said. A suite of $50 million projects for the hospital include a new helipad on the roof, a new, relocated 16-bed intensive care unit, and a cardiac catheter center for treatment of heart blockages, something the hospital has been looking to add for years, Mr. Mitchell said.
A certificate of need was sent off to the state on Dec. 30 for those services, he said. Construction could start by this time next year with the state’s okay, and Mr. Dowling said approval for the cardiac care services could come sooner.
“We’ve already been dealing with New York State with that application,” he said. “We expect within the next couple of months we should get a very positive response.”
Mr. Mitchell praised the hospital’s new partners, saying that Northwell is looking to invest in Riverhead, while other health services are trying to draw community hospital patients into their larger facilities.
“Northwell has a much different philosophy,” he said.
Photo caption: Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO Andrew Mitchell (left) shakes hands with Northwell Health’s president and CEO Michael Dowling after signing a membership agreement Tuesday morning.