ELIH surgical unit expansion close to receiving thumbs up

Eastern Long Island Hospital appears poised to gain permission from the Greenport Planning Board to expand its ambulatory surgical unit on the eastern side of the facility.

Planners met with hospital facilities manager Ray Eble Thursday to review the proposed $2 million expansion, which will enable the hospital to keep pace with technology that permits more patients to undergo procedures and return home the same day.

Back in May, ELIH president and CEO Paul Connor III told the Village Board that ambulatory surgery has increased in the last decade from a few hundred cases each year to more than 5,000.

Mr. Connor also said at the time that changes in insurance reimbursements now provide better rewards for outpatient procedures and that more sophisticated procedures, often requiring no hospital stay, have enabled ELIH to offer more outpatient services.

In response to Planning Board questions, Mr. Eble said he expected that 11 parking spots on the eastern side of the building would be lost, but more parking — specifically designated for use by ambulatory surgery patients — would be created in front of the hospital.

Mr. Connor told Village Board members in May he doesn’t envision more construction to meet growing demand, due to both limited space and a lack of funding. But he said 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, he said.

If planners give the project the go-ahead at their July 7 meeting, it will be contingent on Mr. Eble obtaining a wetlands permit for the construction.

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