Eastern LI Hospital moving forward with expansion plan

With outpatient surgeries fast outpacing the rate of inpatient procedures, Eastern Long Island Hospital is pushing ahead with plans for a $2 million expansion of its ambulatory surgical unit.

That brought Greenport Village Board members to the table last week to take a closer look at the last several years of growth and expansion at the hospital. Their concerns, voiced at a meeting last Thursday at Village Hall, focused on the hospital’s future expansion needs and how they might affect parking in the surrounding community.

The latest expansion already has Planning Board approval, but Mayor David Nyce said he wants to be sure village and hospital officials are on the same page when it comes to safety.

“This is important to the entire neighborhood,” Mr. Nyce said.

During the meeting, hospital president and CEO Paul Connor III said the latest project calls for a small expansion on the building’s eastern side. And while 13 parking spaces in that area will be lost, there is a plan to add parking in other areas to compensate for at least seven of them, he added.

“We might have to give up some beautification for parking,” Mr. Connor said. That means landscaping plans might be sacrificed to accommodate more vehicles. He added that spaces have been redrawn in the hospital’s front and back lots to accommodate additional vehicles.

One aspect of the current expansion plan that could be changed is proposed diagonal parking on Manor Place. Village Board members worried that diagonal parking — in which vehicles would extend partially into the roadway, could cause accidents since large delivery trucks often travel around the hospital.

“If the sentiment of the board is it’s not safe, I’ll probably come to the same conclusion,” Mr. Connor said, agreeing to take another look at the parking plan.

In recent years, the hospital has installed a dock to enable emergency patients to arrive by boat; completed renovations to the psychiatric and addiction services units, patient rooms, nursing stations and the emergency department; and expanded its radiology suite with new MRI and mammography equipment.

Over the past 10 years, ELIH has replaced everything within its walls where patients go, Mr. Connor said. But changes in insurance reimbursements now provide better rewards for outpatient procedures. More sophisticated procedures, requiring shorter hospital stays and, in many cases, no hospital stay, have enabled the hospital to offer more outpatient services.

Ambulatory surgery has increased in the last decade from a few hundred cases each year to more than 5,000, he said.

“It’s quite extraordinary,” Mr. Connor said. Technology advancements have made for less invasive procedures, he said.

He outlined several new outpatient procedures being implemented at ELIH, including new gastrointestinal procedures that take advantage of more sophisticated equipment and physician training. Medicare covers some, but not all of these new procedures, Mr. Connor said. But as coverage expands, more patients are likely to seek such treatments, he said.

Still, he doesn’t envision more construction to meet growing demand, due to both of limited space and a lack of funding. Mr. Connor added that he’s exploring the possibility of relocating some business functions outside the hospital complex to make room for future clinical needs. And if the day comes when ELIH needs a more substantial addition to the ambulatory surgical unit, that would involve adding a second floor.

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