Editorial: PBMC deserves its cardiac catheter lab

When the Peconic Bay Medical Center board chose to merge last April with what is now known as Northwell Health, it meant the end of the East End Health Alliance. 

With Southampton Hospital already committed to a partnership with the Stony Brook University Hospital system and Eastern Long Island in Greenport months away from joining them, it was clear that competition among the East End’s three hospitals was imminent.

Competition can be a good thing for the consumer, especially since PBMC and ELIH are each looking to expand outpatient services and North Fork residents suddenly have more options than ever before.

But when it comes to big-ticket items like PBMC’s and Southampton’s competing proposals to bring cardiac catheterization labs to the region, rivalries can be alarming. It is unlikely both plans will be approved, and while PBMC is optimistic it will receive the necessary state approvals, the fate of its proposal still hangs in the balance.

Southampton Hospital, along with its allies in Stony Brook and Greenport, has made an aggressive pitch to receive permission to build its lab based on its plan’s expediency and cost effectiveness over PBMC’s. But the location of the Riverhead hospital makes it a better candidate.

While we don’t doubt ELIH CEO Paul Connor’s sincerity in making the case that Southampton could have its facility up and running sooner, making it an attractive short-term choice, we don’t believe a South Fork lab would be an appealing — or particularly convenient — option for North Fork residents.

This type of planning requires long-term vision and the people of Southold and Riverhead towns can surely wait an extra year to have such an important and modern facility in their own backyard.

The biggest motivator behind the Stony Brook system’s push for a cath lab at Southampton is money. It is estimated that those three hospitals, and Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in East Patchogue, could stand to lose a combined $25 million if the PBMC facility is built.

While nobody wants to see our local hospitals struggle financially, patient health should remain the top priority of all health care facilities.

Having the cardiac catheterization lab centrally located in Riverhead benefits the entire East End, including the Southold Town population that might ordinarily select ELIH as its first choice.

The lab and PBMC’s overall plan to construct a critical care tower at its main campus on Route 58 are among the most exciting advances in health care on the North Fork in decades.

These proposals deserve swift approvals from the state and support from all local health care providers, regardless of affiliation.

The dissolution of the East End Health Alliance should not mark the end of common sense health care planning that’s focused on the best interests of North Fork residents.