01/21/15 12:00pm
01/21/2015 12:00 PM

Despite news that Southampton Hospital is one step closer to merging with Stony Brook University Medical Center, officials of the East End Health Alliance say their association with the South Fork hospital is intact — at least for now.

Formation of the Alliance — established in part to offer community hospitals better leverage in dealing with large insurance companies and to minimize competition among facilities — was recommended in a 2006 report by the Berger Commission, a state panel that examines health care capacity and resources in New York State.

Last Tuesday, the State University of New York Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with an affiliation that, once finalized, will allow Southampton Hospital to provide care under Stony Brook’s state operating license.

Any agreement would require the approval of multiple state regulatory authorities, including the state Department of Health, Attorney General’s office and state comptroller, according to a Stony Brook press release about the decision.

Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital — the other members of the East End Health Alliance — are also pursuing affiliations with a larger health system and are currently in talks with both Stony Brook and North Shore-LIJ.

If all three East End hospitals do not choose to align with the same larger system, “the Alliance would disestablish,” said ELIH president and CEO Paul Connor, an Alliance spokesman.

Alliance members met most recently Dec. 14, when they finalized a new contract with Empire Blue Cross that took effect Jan. 1, Mr. Connor said.

“No determination has been made to end the Alliance,” he added.

Disbanding it would require coordinated meetings and conversations by the organization’s board, said Demetrios Kadenas, chief development officer for PBMC Health.

The potential mergers are a response to new insurance reimbursement methods brought about by the Affordable Care Act, which now place a value on the quality and outcomes of care provided instead of the extent of care, Mr. Connor said in a release.

“ELIH has much to gain in terms of financial stability by partnering with one of these [larger systems],” he said.

Stony Brook officials are now working to file a Certificate of Need with the state health department that will be evaluated to ensure services align with community needs, according to the health department website.

Andrew Mitchell, president and CEO of PBMC Health, said that “as an integral member of the East End Health Alliance, we look forward to reviewing the Southampton Hospital-Stony Brook transaction when it is brought forward to the Alliance.”

Mr. Kadenas said Southampton Hospital’s affiliation “currently has no impact on PBMC Health and does not affect any current collaboration between PBMC Health and [Stony Brook].”

Mr. Connor added, “Until Stony Brook and Southampton gain all the requisite approvals, ELIH will not be impacted.”

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10/23/14 4:08pm
10/23/2014 4:08 PM
Credit: Katharine Schroeder file

Eastern Long Island Hospital (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Officials from Stony Brook Medical Center and North Shore-LIJ medical care systems confirmed reports Thursday that they are in affiliation talks with both Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital.

The news comes two years after Southampton Hospital announced that it’s been in talks with Stony Brook. (more…)

04/27/14 5:00am
04/27/2014 5:00 AM

veincenter

Shorts and flip-flops are almost mandatory components of the summer wardrobe. But those dealing with hard-to-conceal varicose veins are often left sweating in long pants. Doctors say understanding the cause of varicose veins and responding with the appropriate treatments can help prevent this seasonal dilemma.  (more…)

01/11/14 8:00am
01/11/2014 8:00 AM

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Times/Review babies Jackson Parpan (left) and Abigail White with moms Vera and Suzanne were both recently delivered into the world with help from Mattituck nurse and loyal Suffolk Times reader Douglas Massey.

When you’re an editor of a local newspaper, you expect to meet readers in all sorts of places; the grocery store, schools and libraries are the most common among them.

The hospital delivery room is not the sort of place you’d expect to make that connection — especially at a hospital more than a half-hour outside your coverage area.

But Stony Brook University Medical Center is exactly where I — and Times/Review editor Michael White three months before me — recently met Douglas Massey.

Yes, Mr. Massey, a nurse from Mattituck who happens to be a loyal Suffolk Times reader, coincidentally played a role in the delivery of the two most recent Times/Review babies.

In dealing with patients, Doug, a 52-year-old father of three, is quick to acknowledge that he’s a man in a field traditionally associated with females. It’s all part of a bedside routine he uses to put patients at ease during stressful times. It’s no secret that there’s usually anxiety in a hospital room and it helps if the professionals there treat the patient with compassion and know how to turn a tense moment into a positive experience.

Mr. Massey’s bedside manner was so natural, he gave both Mike and me the initial impression he’d been working as a nurse for decades. That’s not the case.

A laid-off construction project manager, he graduated from nursing school in May 2011, which is when The Suffolk Times first shared his story. While his journey sounds like it could have been a ’90s TV sitcom starring Tim Allen, Doug doesn’t exactly play it for laughs. He’s serious about his calling and it’s clear he cares deeply about helping others.

“If a person is caring, has the intellectual capacity to make it through nursing school and can apply that knowledge on the job, then that is what really matters,” he told the paper in 2011. “If you are empathetic and not afraid to show it, then nursing is the right profession for you.

“I love doing this,” he added. “I love helping people. There’s nothing better. Helping people get back to full function is as good as it can get. I’m a lucky guy to have fallen into it,” he said.

For Mike and me, having someone like him hold our wives’ hands during the most important day of our lives was a blessing.

What made the editor-reader connection even more unusual was that Mr. Massey does not typically work in the maternity ward. While his regular shifts are scheduled in an intensive care unit, he happened to be picking up overtime hours when he found himself in our delivery rooms.

One regret Mike and I both had after the deliveries was that shift changes prevented Doug from seeing our children enter the world. When my son was born at 11:35 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22, Mr. Massey had left the room 45 minutes earlier for an overnight ICU shift. I felt disappointed when it was time for him to leave, and sad I hadn’t gotten the chance to properly thank him for all the help he — and all the other great nurses — gave us on the big day.

But reflecting on the delivery experience this past week, I imagined the great care Doug was able to give the ICU patients, who I’m sure needed him more that night than we did. They were lucky to have such a pro at their side.

Mr. Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-354-8046.

10/27/13 10:00am
10/27/2013 10:00 AM
STONY BROOK MEDICINE COURTESY PHOTO | The operating room team at Stony Brook University Hospital dances and wears pink gloves during a video shoot for the national competition.

STONY BROOK MEDICINE COURTESY PHOTO | The operating room team at Stony Brook University Hospital dances and wears pink gloves during a video shoot for the national competition.

Stony Brook Medicine needs your vote to help raise funds supporting breast cancer research.

For the third year in a row, the teaching hospital has entered a video featuring hospital and school officials into the Pink Glove video competition sponsored by MedLine Industries Inc.

“The Pink Glove Dance rallied the entire Stony Brook community around breast cancer awareness and research. We want to win to honor all those affected by breast cancer and need your daily vote to do it.” said Linda Bily, cancer patient advocacy and community outreach coordinator for the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, who coordinated production of the video. “We danced the dance, and now it’s time to rock the vote.”

A prize of $25,000 will be donated to the winner’s selected charity helping to fund breast cancer research. Second prize is $10,000 and third prize is $5,000, according to the contest.

Voting ends at midnight on Friday, Nov. 8., and winners will be announced on Friday, Nov. 15. Any prizes won by Stony Brook will benefit The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Center.

Stony Brook’s video is set to the tune of “Carry On” by the band Fun. It features campy performances hospital and university officials; Ethan Zohn, professional soccer player and winner of reality TV show “Survivor: Africa,” as well as many Stony Brook Medicine staff, Stony Brook University sports teams and clubs, and community supporters, according to the university hospital.

To vote for Stony Brook’s video, click here.

04/20/13 7:00am
04/20/2013 7:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58 received a high score from Consumer Reports.

Known for rating everything from cars to cribs, Consumer Reports released updated hospital safety ratings last month, giving two East End health care facilities the highest scores in the county.

Southampton Hospital led the county with a score of 58, followed closely by Peconic Bay Medical Center with 56. Both hospitals scored significantly higher than the national average of 49.

Only 10 of Suffolk County’s 13 hospitals were rated by the magazine. Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport was one of the three not included in the report, along with South Oaks Hospital in Amityville and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport.

Hospitals across the U.S. are now being rated by Consumer Reports — every six months — on a scale of 1 to 100 points, based on factors such as readmissions, communication and preventable infections.

“Preventable infections,” according to the report, include infections patients contracted after common surgical procedures in 2010; “bloodstream infections” include those patients contracted through the use of central-line catheters in 2011. Central-line catheters are placed in a large vein in a patient’s neck, chest or groin and are used to deliver medications, among other things.

Data for the ratings came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and state health departments. Information collected by the nonprofit American Hospital Association was also included.

Southampton Hospital did not report a single bloodstream infection in 2011, or any surgical site infections following its 65 surgical procedures in 2010, according to the report.

Peconic Bay reported a single surgical site infection in its 206 surgical procedures in 2010. Information on bloodstream infections at the Riverhead hospital was not cited in the report.

Seventy-nine percent of Southampton’s patients said they were well informed about new medications, according to the report, compared to only 67 percent at Peconic Bay, giving PBMC the lowest rating of any county hospital on that measure.

“PBMC is always looking for ways to improve our culture of safety,” Maureen Ruga, the hospital’s director of quality management, said in a statement responding to questions about the report. “We still have challenges, as evidenced in our scores.”

With an overall safety rating of 40, Stony Brook University Medical Center was rated “worse than average” at avoiding serious complications.

“There is always opportunity for additional improvement for all hospitals, and Stony Brook is committed to continually improving patient safety,” said Carolyn Santora, interim chief quality officer at Stony Brook. “A team of more than 100 nurses, administrators and physicians routinely assesses patient safety issues throughout the hospital so that they can be monitored, trended and addressed as needed.”

Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, which received a 34, and St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, which earned a safety rating of 31, rounded out the lowest scores among Suffolk’s 10 rated hospitals.

But the ratings themselves don’t come without scrutiny.

Although Eastern Long Island Hospital was not included in the magazine’s report, Paul Connor, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said he gives little credence to the ratings.

Companies using the information to compare one hospital to another is not what the government-compiled information was designed for, he said.

“These companies are making a living out of slicing and dicing this, and showing which hospitals are best,” he said. “It’s confusing. People don’t know what to make of it.”

In support of that contention, Mr. Connor noted that in its first hospital safety report, Consumer Reports rated Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway the second-safest hospital in the region. Peninsula Hospital closed seven months later, in April 2012.

“They were closed for a number of reasons, one was a quality reason,” Mr. Connor said. Peninsula was “unable to stay solvent after its lab failed a state exam and was shut down by the New York State Health Department, which said the lab was dangerous for patients,” according to a New York Times story published May 20, 2012.

Mr. Connor said he suspected Eastern Long Island wasn’t included in the report in part because of its small size.

Consumer Reports’ ratings are only available through a paid subscription to the company’s magazine or website. It is one of several outlets offering hospital safety ratings. Hospital Compare, which is run by the federal government, and the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, run by a nonprofit that rates hospital safety, quality, and efficiency, also offer hospital safety information, but these are free to the public.

Mr. Connor recommends that patients seeking hospital safety information visit the government’s Hospital Compare website, saying the site offers more information to readers than Consumer Reports.

The safety ratings were issued March 21 and include updated ratings for 2,031 of the nation’s 5,724 hospitals. Consumer Reports released its first ratings report in August 2012, rating 1,159 institutions.

In the earlier report, Southampton Hospital placed in the bottom three in the county, with a score of 40, while Peconic Bay led the county with a 59.

Doris Peter, a data analyst with Consumer Reports, said differences between this year’s scores and last year’s can be attributed to updated government information on infections and how Consumer Reports decided to weigh the criteria, giving more weight to preventable infections.

Consumer Reports also dropped mortality rates as a criterion, which had been used in the August 2012 ratings, she said, because the government has stopped providing Consumer Reports with mortality data. Ms. Peter said she was unsure why.

Southampton Hospital made a concerted effort to improve its overall safety, said Dr. Fred Weinbaum, the hospital’s executive vice president and chief medical officer. “Infections are something we have made an effort on, really insisting on following all our protocols,” he said. “The fact that we worked at it and were able to improve we are very proud of.”

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04/17/13 11:04am
04/17/2013 11:04 AM

DINA REILLY COURTESY PHOTO | Maya Reilly, 7, leaving Stony Brook University Medical Center Saturday. Maya is suffering from Kawasaki disease, an illness that forced her temperature to 106 degrees.

Dina Reilly knew something was wrong when her daughter, who was suffering from a 104-degree fever, broke out in a mysterious rash over most of her body.

But doctors, she said, just couldn’t provide her with answers.

“I was a basket case,” Ms. Reilly said. “First they told me it was a sinus infection. Then they said it was a virus. Then she was tested for meningitis.”

Seven-year-old Maya was misdiagnosed three times after she fell ill March 30, according to Ms. Reilly. It wasn’t until Sunday, April 7, after her fever reached 106, that she was rushed to Stony Brook University Medical Center and her illness was finally given a name.

Maya’s organs were failing from Kawasaki disease. She was immediately put on life support.

Kawasaki disease affects young children. The rare condition causes inflammation in the walls of small- and medium-sized arteries throughout the body, including the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its cause is unknown but if it’s detected within 10 days, patients can recover fully within a few days. If left untreated, however, it can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart and is potentially life-threatening.

DINA REILLY COURTESY PHOTO   |  Maya Reilly in her hospital bed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

DINA REILLY COURTESY PHOTO | Maya Reilly in her hospital bed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“We got there just in time,” Ms. Reilly said. “If I listened to doctors, she would have died on my couch.”

Ms. Reilly is now working to raise awareness about Kawasaki disease. In the months ahead, she hopes to share her daughter’s story as a way of educating doctors and parents about the symptoms of Kawasaki, which include severe redness in the eyes, rashes, red and dry cracked lips, swollen tongue, irritated throat and a persistent high fever.

“No kid should go through what my kid went through,” she said. “No parent should go through what I went through.”

Ms. Reilly has already started spreading the word using Facebook. On her page, she updates her followers on Maya’s progress and shares information about Kawasaki disease. Her posts have garnered an outpouring of community support. Southold Town residents are donating home-cooked meals, gift cards and even gas to help the family.

“Every kind of support you can think of is what the community has given us,” she said. “It’s been mind-blowing.”

As for Maya, Ms. Reilly said, “She’s a tough cookie.” Maya was taken off life support five days after being admitted to the hospital. She was released last Saturday, but recovery is ongoing. She will continue aggressive treatment with steroids and aspirin and regular doctor check-ups to monitor her condition.

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