Tag Archive | "Southampton Hospital"

Showhouse on Parade

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Hamptons Showhouse 1

by Courtney M. Holbrook

What is home but a sanctuary from the outside world? A place where owners can find comfort in the familiar tropes of personal life?

At the annual Hamptons Designer Showhouse, the idea of creating a home is a task given to a slate of interior designers who make their portion of it what they will.

Opening to the public on Sunday, July 24 (with a special Gala Preview Cocktail Party Saturday, July 23 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.), this year’s six-week Showhouse is on Scuttle Hole Road in Bridgehampton and each participating designer has been given a space to design however he or she chooses.

“I’m a fan of taking a story — a concept — for a room,” said Gideon Mendelson, an interior designer for the Mendelson Group. “Working on [the ShowHouse] allowed me to be creative, to think about what I wanted to give a family that would live in this area.”

Mendelson’s space is the back staircase and second-floor landing of the house. Despite its small dimensions, Mendelson appreciated the challenge to “really take charge of the design.”

“With a Showhouse, you can be absolutely creative, even if it’s difficult,” he said. “You can create a theme that’s completely yours, not determined by an individual client.”

Theme flows through the entirety of Mendelson’s design. In his vision, a narrow staircase and non-rectangular landing have been transformed into a concise work of art centered on the notion of aviation.

“When I looked at this space, I immediately thought of this idea of taking flight,” Mendelson said. “You leave the stairs for this landing pad, where people can come together to relax.”

The “landing pad” is Mendelson’s name for the second-floor landing. He was inspired by the term itself, where “landing” meant “aviation theme,” and “pad” meant “a place to chill out.” The staircase “ignites” the owners up to the landing pad, where they can relax in an environment that combines comfort with exhilarating beauty.

It was important to Mendelson that the aviation theme be present, but not so much as to overwhelm. The grass cloth wallpaper on the stairwell has pale green and yellow tones, but for a touch of originality, Mendelson drilled solid gold metal-heads into the wallpaper.
“It’s actually pretty subtle,” he said. “But if you look closely, it’s almost similar to the exterior of a plane.”

On the wall of the stairwell is mounted what seems like a not-so-subtle allusion — a giant propeller. Yet, the deep rich color of the wood and smooth curves of the sculpture make it invitingly subtle.

Once the viewer steps up to the landing pad, they may be surprised by the emphasis on comfort that shines through the soaring concept. The round, low-to-the-ground easy chair is pale green and deliciously soft. The low white sofa next to the rectangular desk and white ottoman is vintage flair with family coziness. It’s as though a set from “Mad Men” jumped into the Hamptons and invited grandparents and children.

“Honestly, that’s what I imagined for this space — a family coming together,” he said. “Maybe a grandmother reading to her grandchild.”

That theme of family is carefully arranged in the space. On the light green chair sits a copy of “Le Petit Prince” by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. On a coffee table across from the white sofa sits a Scrabble board. Even the family accessories maintain the aviation theme; “Le Petit Prince” was chosen for its themes of “enlightenment through exploration,” according to Mendelson. The words on the Scrabble board spell out “propeller,” “aviation” and “terminal.”

For the adults in the room, the art keeps with the sky-high theme. One photograph show a man about to alight from a tree, his arms outstretched as though he were flying. Other photographs show a woman departing from a plane, and a man in an ancient, almost cyber-punk aircraft.

“It’s just this constant evolution of flight that you see in this space,” Mendelson said. “This space is an ensemble, it tells a story, it has a plot.”

In line with the space’s collection of family comfort with aesthetic singularity are the shapes used throughout the room. Mendelson worked with round and X shapes; the round chair and lamps coincide with an X-shaped ottoman design and an X-shaped ceiling lamp. Individual lamps on the ceiling have round, hard metal circular formations; when the viewer looks up, they appear as “lights on a tarmac, a runway,” according to Mendelson.

Mendelson, however, still insisted that the space was suitable for typical Hamptons living.
“I deliberately chose colors that would also reflect a sort of beach aesthetic — teal, blue-green, chartreuse — it’s a calm palette,” he said. “You could easily see this space as suitable for a fisherman, as well as a pilot.”

Mendelson continues to work at his Manhattan-based design firm, and spends summers in Sagaponack. But he looks at the Showhouse experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I was able to tell this story — offer this idea of mine to other families … There’s a lot of eye candy, something’s there for everyone,” he said.

The Hamptons Designer Showhouse (1224 Scuttle Hole Road, Bridgehampton) is open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 24 to September 4. Admission is $30. Proceeds benefit Southampton Hospital. Tickets to Saturday’s preview start at $750 for two. Call 237-1475 to reserve.

Hospital Reaches Out With Virtual Tours

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web Biz Hospital

By Bryan Boyhan

Among the steps the folks at Southampton Hospital have taken to reach out to the public is a series of virtual tours prospective patients can view before they visit the hospital. The tours highlight areas the institution has upgraded in recent years.

“These help people find out what the hospital offers,” said director of marketing and public affairs, Marsha Kenny. “We’re finding new ways to put information out there.”

The new video tours went up on the hospital’s website just this past summer; and the newly-designed website itself was just re-launched this past April.

“People appreciate being able to see what we have to offer,” said Kenny.

In the past year or so, the hospital has made great strides in expanding services, said Kenny, and four departments in particular have been highlighted with the video tours.

The Ed and Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute, which was introduced just last year, features a range of exercise programs and facilities that resemble a health club.

In the tour, the camera takes a viewer past the receptionist’s desk and through the halls of the center, and watches as patients exercise on treadmills and weight machines. A voice over explains that a hospital medical team can help “guide you through a difficult time” after suffering, for example, a heart attack or recovering from surgery.

Images show trainers and physical therapists working with patients in a variety of situations. It’s a soothing environment, says the announcer, designed by a Feng Shui consultant, as the camera pans across pastel-colored walls and a bowl of pears.

The opening image of the tour of the Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department pans across the new entrance then takes you through the emergency center’s front doors to a waiting room with wood floors and a decidedly warm feeling. It is a room that, for many people, is their first impression of Southampton Hospital, and the tour — like all four of the videos — works to help prospective visitors understand that the hospital has gone to great lengths to make them feel comfortable. These are concepts that are not always easy to express in the written word or in conversation.

“As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Kenny. “We believe it helps to put people’s minds at ease. Those who  have never been here are not sure what they’ll expect when they come here.”

The other video’s available include virtual tours of The Ellen Hermanson Breast Center and the Kathleen D. Allen Maternity Center.

The original concept to create the tours emerged in February through a conversation Kenny had with radio personality Connie Conway, whose husband is a videogapher.

“We chose Connie because of her experience as a newscaster,” said Kenny, who helped write the dialogue for the videos. It is Conway’s voice viewers hear on the tours.

Conway was also helpful in crafting the message the hospital wanted to get out, said Kenny, who felt it was important to have a perspective from somebody not directly associated with the hospital.

“She knew what she and her friends would want to know,” said Kenny.

The videos also do not use professional actors.

“In our marketing we use our own staff, they’re all familiar in the community,” she said. “It is part of our branding.”

“And they didn’t complain,” Kenny laughed.





East End Digest: December 17 – December 24

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eliqgMainQuilt

Quilts Donated to Southampton Hospital Maternity Center

Southampton Hospital recently received a very generous donation of more than 45 quilts and wall hangings from the Eastern Long Island Quilters Guild based in Southold. The group of approximately 300 quilters from all over the East End donates their hand-made items to the Kathleen D. Allen Maternity Center at Southampton Hospital every December. Additionally, the group makes wheelchair and baby-sized quilts. Fabric donations are always welcome. For more information, call 631-723-0244 or visit their website at www.ELIQG.com.

Above: (l to r) Betty Commander, RN; Jean Bernhardt; Kathleen Pierce and Theresa Kumbatovich, LPN

Peconic Bay
CPF Rev’s Stay Steady

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., reported last week that revenues for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) have increased by 8.6% percent for October 2009 as compared to the same month in 2008. For September 2009, the CPF generated $4.21 million. In 2008, the CPF generated $3.88 million for the same month. September marks the 5th consecutive month of improving CPF revenue. For the year, the CPF has generated $30 million for 2009 to date, compared with $50.4 million in 2008, or a 40.5 percent decline.
While revenues for September 2009 increased compared with a year ago, the number of transactions has declined by 7% for September 2009. For the first nine months of 2008 there were 5,444 transactions. For the same period in 2009 there were 4150, or a 23.8% decline for the year.
“The most recent CPF numbers clearly demonstrate two things. First, because of the national economic recession, the annual revenue expected to be generated for 2009 will be in the range of $36-38 million which will be the lowest year since 2001. However, for the last five (5) months the trend has improved with the highest monthly revenues of the year, said Thiele.

Southampton Town
Virtual Tax Office

With the first installment of property taxes due by January 10, Southampton Town residents have an easier way to pay this year, says a release from supervisor Linda Kabot’s office. Taking advantage of a series of technological improvements, tax receiver Theresa Kiernan reported that all tax bills can now be viewed, printed or paid online. To do so, residents can log on to www.southamptontownny.gov and click the link for “Online Services” at the left of the screen.

“It’s a great way to receive proof of payment right on the spot,” said Kiernan. “There’s no longer any risk of it getting lost in the mail. And since there’s no need to fax copies of bills, it cuts down on paperwork at both ends.”

Among the new methods of payment are electronic checks via the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network, with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards accepted over the internet. A one dollar fee will be charged for each ACH transaction and a two percent fee will be applied for credit card processing.

With more than 50,000 taxable parcels in the Town of Southampton, Kiernan’s office collects over $300 million annually in school, county and town taxes. Over 65 percent of bills are paid directly to the town by individuals, with the remaining 35 coming from banks for taxes included in mortgage payments.

“People should try it out,” advised Kiernan. “No one likes paying taxes, so the more convenient we can make it, the better.”

Southampton Town
GOP Screens Sag Harbor Dentist

The Southampton Town Republican Committee screened candidates for a special election on Thursday evening, December 3. The group was in session for several hours at the Villa Tuscano Restaurant in Hampton Bays as the committee heard from potential office seekers hailing from nearly every corner of the town.

The evening began with Supervisor Linda Kabot thanking committee members and their alternates for their support over the years and particularly during the 2009 campaign. She also stated she will not seek the Republican nomination for Town Council.
In addition to three other candidates, the committee interviewed Dr. Tod Granger, who has a dental practice in Noyac and lives in Sag Harbor Village After retiring from 24 years of military service and attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Granger has restarted his dentist practice in the Sag Harbor area. Born in Southampton Hospital and raised in Sag Harbor, he served on the Village Board of Trustees from 1988-1992, as well as on the boards of other town and community organizations.

The committee said they will likely make a decision by the second week of January at a special convention.

Southampton Town

Mortgage Tax Revenue

The East End Supervisors and Mayors Association unanimously approved a resolution on Monday, December 7, by Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot petitioning Suffolk County to distribute mortgage tax revenues owed to local municipalities earlier and more frequently, said a press release distributed by Kabot’s office. The release stated that Kabot has also called upon County Executive Steve Levy to move the initiative forward.

The release continued, saying under the present system, Suffolk County collects mortgage tax revenues and disburses them to its ten townships under state law. However, funds are allocated biannually with a six month lag. In contrast, proceeds from the two percent real estate transfer tax are distributed to each East End town for their Community Preservation Funds on a monthly basis. Kabot said she would like to see the mortgage revenues distributed in a similar fashion, or at least quarterly.

“Since towns rely on mortgage tax revenues to support certain operating expenses, the ability to receive the proceeds on a timelier basis is critical to cash flow needs – particularly during tight budgetary times,” said Kabot.

The Southampton Supervisor also noted how the financial pressures an economic downturn exerts on a municipality can be considerable, especially if it is a local government that is dependent on revenues that are volatile and based on real estate and construction activities. Most of the past 10 years brought in over $12 million annually for Southampton, but the recent slump in home and land sales have put the number around $5.5 million for 2009 and an anticipated $6 million for 2010.

“Towns and villages are finding it more difficult to meet expenses according to their adopted spending plans,” said Kabot. “Like many households, they are living ‘paycheck-to-paycheck’ and this plan would let the payments come sooner and with more accurate predictions regarding the amounts for the following month.”

South Shore
Disaster Area

New York Congressman Tim Bishop sent a letter to New York State Governor David Paterson earlier this month urging him to request a federal disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for areas struck by recent storm occurrences along the south shore of Long Island. Such actions would allow federal disaster aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas that have experienced significant shore erosion, navigation degradation or asset damage, said a press release published by Bishop’s office.
Estimates of the damages to Suffolk County communities from the recent effects of Tropical Storm Ida exceed $26 million, continued the release.
“It is critical for the Governor to issue a disaster declaration as soon as possible for the south shore of Long Island to ensure our communities have adequate protection against future storms and that our maritime industries do not face further economic burden,” said Bishop. “Following the Governor’s decision, I will be coordinating a meeting between federal, state and local agencies to determine the most effective steps forward toward protecting the resources and assets of south shore communities.”
To view a copy of the letter visit http://timbishop.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=39&sectiontree=3,39&itemid=1615.

East End
Helicopter Noise

During a tele-conference held on Friday, December 11, Congressman Tim Bishop reported that he has found a pre-existing law authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to dictate the flight routes of helicopter pilots. Working with Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Bishop presented to FAA representatives a 1989 decision which Bishop says allows the FAA to regulate helicopter traffic. In order to reduce noise pollution caused by helicopters on the North and South Shore of Long Island, Congressman Bishop said a voluntary flight route, keeping the helicopters over water as long as possible, was unsuccessful due to noncompliance.
“The FAA are on board in terms of working with us in bringing this long festering problem [to a close],” said Congressman Bishop.

Hospital ER Gets $5 Million Shot in the Arm

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web New ED entrance

The largest financial gift in its history will allow Southampton Hospital to nearly double the size of its emergency room facilities, creating more space for services that have grown along with the South Fork population.

The $5 million gift comes from hedge fund manager John Paulson, chairman and founder of investment firm Paulson & Co., and his wife Jenny.

“As Southampton residents, we have all benefited from the services of the hospital. We are lucky to have such a talented and dedicated team of doctors and caregivers to attend to our emergency needs,” John Paulson said in a release issued by the hospital.

The new facility, which will be named for the benefactors, is scheduled to be completed by May 2010 and is designed to make the operations of the emergency room more efficient. Of note will be a centralized trauma nurse’s station and triage area that will greatly expand the hospital’s ability to triage patients, said hospital spokesperson Marsha Kenny.

Also adding to the efficiency of the new design will be separate entrances for walk-in patients and ambulance arrivals, both of which will be through weather-protected portals. Kenny noted this also will allow the more traumatic cases that typically arrive by ambulance to enter the building away from those sitting in the waiting room.

“As it is now, seeing some of the trauma arrivals can be disturbing,” said Kenny.

In addition to expanded diagnostic and treatment areas, the new design allows for a “fast track” area for less acute illnesses and injuries.

Kenny noted the emergency room typically addresses a wide range of cases, “from severe trauma to fish hooks in fingers,” and the new design will allow the hospital to more easily direct patients to the appropriate care.

Kenny said it was unclear how the number of patients have increased in recent years, but said, gauging from the increase of population on the South Fork, including a growth in second home owners and those who visit, the demand on emergency room services has increased accordingly.

“There has been a lot of construction out here, a lot of new houses and a lot of people,” said Kenny. “We have more traffic, more cars and more second home owners, who have people visiting them. Many of them find their way to our emergency room.”

“A hospital’s growth is reflective of the community it is in,” she said.

She estimated the ER sees about 25,000 patients a year, and on busy days in the summer it would not be unusual for 125 to 130 patients to come through.

The new facility will grow the emergency room from its current 6,250 square feet to 10,100 square feet and add another eight beds, going from 14 to 22.

They will add two trauma rooms, seven patient treatment cubicles, four exam rooms and a decontamination room, the latter something they haven’t had a need for yet, but were planning for the eventuality, said Kenny.

They will also expand the waiting room to accommodate about 30 to 35 people and will add a bereavement room.

“It’s awful for families who have lost someone,” said Kenny.

“This wonderful display of kindness will touch the lives of so many families,” said Peter Larsen, Southampton Hospital Board Chairman, of the gift. “This is a key milestone in the hospital’s long tradition of healthcare excellence and we are deeply appreciative of the Paulsons’ generous support.”

John Paulson, who owns a home in Southampton, was ranked number 33 this year on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, with a worth of about $6.8 billion, according to Wikipedia.

Dr. Darin Wiggins

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web Dr. Darin Wiggins

The Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Southampton Hospital on the difference between swine flu and typical flu, who should get a vaccine and why you shouldn’t rush to the ER.


What’s the difference between the H1N1 virus and the typical flu?

Clinically, they are not all that different. Patients have a high fever, muscle pain, classic flu symptoms. A headache and fever — they share that.

There are some differences in who it is affecting, and it has more to do with the fact the younger generation has never been exposed to this before. Usually the flu hits the older population worse. This variation, the H1N1 is hitting the younger generation worse.


What age group?

We’re seeing it in 20 to 40 year olds, with many in their early 20s. A lot of them are college age and are all living in dorms together. This one is concentrated in a lot of colleges. They’re the canary in the coal mine.


How do you determine the difference?

There is not much of a clinical difference; but there are tests specifically for H1N1

The normal flu dies out around February, but this year saw a spike in June. It was almost all swine flu. There’s almost no reason test. We saw a spike again when students went back to school.

The regular flu season starts in November and December and we don’t know if swine will continue into regular season.


Of those who contract H1N1, what is the percentage of those who die?

Extremely low, millions have gotten swine flu in America and very few fatalities. It’s not worse than a typical flu season. You don’t care if you’re 30 in ten million, but it tends to get a lot of media attention.

There is a lot of swine flu that goes undiagnosed. In Mexico, for example, it appeared there were a lot of deaths, and it looked horrible at first until they realized how many people actually had the disease.

And every flu season, a few healthy people will die.


What symptoms should we be looking for that are tell tale H1N1 symptoms?

None.


What symptoms would send us to the emergency room?

It’s still the same, regardless of what flu you’re talking about. You ask, do I need to go to an ER? It will depend on the risk group you fall in. Most people need to stay home and take meds.

The guidelines are almost identical to the average flu. Clearly, if you’re having a problem breathing or experiencing confusion, go to the ER or contact your regular doctor.

A fever and aches don’t necessarily mean you should be going to the emergency room.

Are you at high risk? Have asthma, for example. Then you should. The very young or those with immune deficiencies, too. H1N1 is very typical in most respects.


What are the groups who should be getting the vaccine?

I personally believe everybody should — if you can get it. If for no other reason you don’t want to get the flu,

The very young and pregnant women are getting prioritized, then comes health care workers – because we’re exposed to a lot of sick people.


Is there a contagious shedding from those who receive the nasal mist?

It is a live virus and could cause you to shed the attenuated virus, which could make someone sick. There are some that cannot receive the live virus, those who do not have an intact immune system, for example.


How fast do you have take tamiflu, and how fast do you need to get tamiflu in your system?

CDC changed their recommendations. Only those who are at high risk or seriously sick should take tamiflu. Most patients who have flu will get better on their own. Taking tamiflu will take only about a half day shorter, that’s about it. A lot of doctors have stopped prescribing it.


When will the H1N1 vaccine be available locally?

I believe the hospital’s shipment is due this week. Some pediatricians have gotten theirs already.

At one point all hospital employees were required to get the vaccine, but that was lifted this week. Now no one is required. Once we’ve given our employees and in-house patients, we’ll make the balance available to the public.

A lot more patients are getting vaccinated this year than ever before, but the supply is not as robust as we would have liked.

Hospital Opens Doors to Wellness Institute

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web Wellness Center

On the Monday before Southampton Hospital’s new Ed and Phyllis Davis Wellness Institute is to open, director of rehabilitation Craig Homis and his team of employees are waiting for furniture to be delivered, a construction crew is putting the finishing touches on the revamped space and the custodial staff is still wiping down floors and walls.

Although it would appear that Homis is scrambling to ready the institute for its official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, September 17, he is surprisingly calm and unfazed by the flurry of activity around him. When Homis takes a moment out of his busy schedule to discuss the Wellness institute, an idea in the pipeline for nearly five years, the empty rooms seem to fill with their anticipated use. One can picture patients stretching together in the exercise room during a yoga class or another patient having an acupuncture treatment in an examining room with wide windows and plenty of light.

For Homis, the Wellness Institute is expanding upon an integrative form of medicine the hospital already uses with its patients who suffer from chronic illnesses. The institute will offer a wide array of classes, seminars and will feature a staff of wellness experts, including a massage therapist, nutritionist and acupuncturist, in the hopes of marrying traditional clinical practices with holistic medicine.

“All of our rehabilitative programs like massage, nutrition counseling and the cancer wellness program were already offered at the hospital, but now we will be able to incorporate things like yoga, Tai Chi and meditation,” explained Marsha Kenny, Southampton Hospital’s director of marketing and public affairs.

Five years ago, staff members Cynthia Grant, the supervisor of the massage therapy program, and Jessica Swiatocha, a nurse practitioner and supervisor of the Cardio-Pulmonary Clinic and Wellness Program, were trained at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard University. The knowledge they gained from this course became a template for the integrative medical practices used at the hospital.

Kenny explains that patients suffering from chronic illnesses would undergo an eight week “mind body” course to help them manage stress during their difficult treatments. The Wellness Institute houses these services in one place and expands upon the concept of balance between the mind and the body by offering other courses, like yoga and Tai Chi. As Kenny explains, the institute is meant for both individuals with chronic illnesses and those simply wishing to adopt a healthier life-style.

With a change in leadership in December of 2007, hospital president and CEO Robert Chaloner was brought in around this time, the idea of a Wellness Institute shifted from a wish to a plan as the hospital started fundraising efforts and picked a location for the institute in early 2008. However, it took almost a year to find an off site location for the business office, which originally inhabited the space, and it took another eight months for the renovations to be completed.

The hospital’s construction crew started preliminary renovations eight months ago, but their work was staggered as they focused their efforts on completing the recently opened Ellen Hermanson Breast Institute. However, the end result is a Wellness Institute unique to the East End.

“I haven’t heard about other programs like ours,” remarked Homis. “Everyone has their own version of an integrative medical program … Others are more fitness based. But we are kind of special out here.”

The institute offers classes and programs catering to every need. From art therapy to cardiac rehabilitation, the institute has a little bit of everything. Many ongoing courses, however, are focused on specific illnesses, including “Yoga for Cancer Patients” and “Diabetes: Basics and Beyond.” Other services include EEG Biofeedback to help with concentration, sleep, mood and performance, and meditation and visualization sessions. Homis believes controlling stress and eating correctly are key components in a treatment program. The institute offers a stress management course and classes on nutrition, including “Nutritional Weight,” “Culinary Nutrition,” and “Eat Healthy Your Way.”

As the institute is founded on the principal of the mind-body connection, several support groups are also administered, including one on diabetes and an eight week weight loss class. The hospital’s 700 employees are also encouraged to take advantage of the institute and monthly employee yoga and meditation sessions will be offered. Homis added that some services are covered by insurance, while others like the yoga classes will be priced reasonably to make them available to all patients.

The facilities are as much of a draw as its concept and services. There are two examining rooms, a consultation room and a large open space, which can be divided, for support groups and exercise classes. The space was renovated from its former use as a business office into a warm oasis with faux wood floors, sage green painted walls and low recessed lighting. However, the piece de resistance at the institute are the several wide windows which stream in light throughout the day. For Homis, it was especially important to be sensitive to his patients. He used non-toxic paint for the walls, hired a Feng Shui consultant to help lay out the space, and chose vinyl faux wood flooring for easy clean up. The institute is also conveniently located next to the cardiac rehabilitation center.

On Monday, Ed Davis, who with his wife Phyllis helped fund a majority of the project, poked around the institute as the coordinator of wellness services Ragan Finalborgo organized papers on her newly-arrived dark wood desk. Construction workers tooled around with a bit of wiring in the exercise room, but almost everything appeared to be under control and ready for the opening reception on Thursday, much to Homis and Kenny’s delight.

Deadline Passes, Hospitals Will Waive Some Fees for Empire Policy Holders

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web connor

By Andrew Rudansky

With the passing of the August negotiations deadline, the three member hospitals of the East End Health Alliance  — Southampton, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island — are now no longer in the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield network. But the Alliance has agreed to make it less painful, financially, for local residents insured by Empire.

The main point of contention in the negotiations is the rate at which Empire would reimburse the Alliance hospitals for services rendered to patients.

In response to passing the deadline the Alliance has adopted a new policy, waving any additional co-pay charges, for elective procedures, that Empire policy holders would incur for being “out-of-network.” Paul Connor III, President of Eastern Long Island Hospital and spokesperson for the East End Health Alliance said that the premise of this policy was to try to eliminate any of the costs that Empire puts on its members for using any outside facilities.

“Yes we could be losing money,” said Connors, “but we believe that it would be an advantage for the out-of-network holders if they could still use Alliance hospitals, that they are used to using.” Citing the “greater good” Connors believed that the policy would be “a gesture towards the community.”

In response to this news Hummel said, “We are very happy that they are concerned with the financial impact of these negations on their members.” Hummel added that she wished the Alliance had exhibited this same concern for their patients before the deadline passed on August 1.

Despite the passing of the deadline both sides are committed to continue the negotiation process.

Craig Andrews, Public Relations Director at Empire Blue Cross Shield said that Empire’s “goal has been to resolve this, it is our goal to get them back in our network.”

Empire has refused several offers made by the Alliance calling the proposed rates “not realistic.” Jill Hummel, Vice President of Health Services for Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield called the rates proposed by the Alliance as “far in excess of what we offer to comparable hospitals.”

The Alliance has maintained that the rates they have proposed, rates that Andrews claims are between a 50 to 60 percent increase from the pervious agreement, are “market rates,” rates similar to the ones the Alliance has with other insurance providers. Andrews says that Empire’s counter offers to the Alliance are in the “double-digits” but would not elaborate further. Hummel said “We put on the table a very substantial multi-year proposal,” one that she claims would be adequate to cover the operating needs of an efficiently run hospital.

Congressman Tim Bishop, who held a joint press conference with the Alliance on July 20, is not the only politician to side with the hospitals during the contract negotiations. State Assemblymen Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said “I come down on the side of hospitals.” Thiele says that the dispute between Empire and the Alliance is adversely effecting many of his constituents. Thiele as well as all of the other members of the New York State Assembly are policy holders of the states insurance plan, a plan Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield provides.

The failure of both sides to come to an agreement prompted the Alliance announced that they were going to hold a press conference on Friday August 7, at 10 a.m. at the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. Expected to attend the press conference would be State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, State Assemblymen Marc S. Alessi and Thiele. Thiele, a Republican, said that this press conference with Alessi, a Democrat, transcended partisan politics. “This is about the public welfare,” said Thiele.

However on Tuesday, August 4, a second press release was sent out announcing that the press conference would be cancelled. Thiele said the cancellation of the press conference was an “indicator that serious negotiations might restart.”

In photo above, Congressman Tim Bishop and Alliance spokesman Paul Connor at press conference two weeks ago.

Still No Deal With Empire BlueCross BlueShield

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The contract negotiations between Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and the East End Health Alliance are reportedly still at a standstill. With only one day left, before the deadline (Friday at midnight) — when 40 percent of Eastern Long Islanders would no longer be covered at local Alliance hospitals — things do not look good.

Paul Connor III, spokesman for the Alliance, said, “Anything is a possibility…but when I see how far we still have to go I am not optimistic.”

Craig Andrews, Public Relations Director at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, said, “we gave them our proposal, they sent back a counter proposal but not much has changed. The rates in the proposal they sent us are too high.” Andrews added, “It is only Wednesday and we do have up until midnight on Friday.”

Regardless of the deadline, emergency cases and pregnant women beyond the first trimester would still be covered at local hospitals.

Bishop Aids Health Alliance in Fight With Empire

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web Alliance
By Andrew Rudansky

With only 11 days left before Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield’s contract with several area hospitals expires, The East End Health Alliance, a partnership between Southampton Hospital, Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, and Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, is scrambling to return to the negotiating table. Congressman Tim Bishop, a Southampton native, intervening on behalf of the alliance held a press conference at the Southampton Hospital’s Parrish Memorial Hall this Monday, July 20 urging Empire BCBS to return to the negotiating table to renew the contract before the July 31 deadline.
“I don’t want to be melodramatic and suggest that we are on the verge of a health care crisis,” said Congressman Bishop, “but we are certainly on the verge of a tremendously adverse situation that affects public health on eastern Long Island.”
This situation should not be unfamiliar to many local residents, as this isn’t the first time the East End Health Alliance has run up against insurance companies. In May of 2008 with Oxford Health Insurance and then once again in September of 2008 with GHI/HIP, the Alliance both faced stern opposition at the negotiating table. In both of those cases the Alliance was able to successfully negotiate new contracts.

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Empire BCBS is much different than Oxford Health Insurance and GHI/HIP in terms of scope. Empire BCBS is Eastern Long Island’s largest health care provider, covering over 40% of all policy holders in the area. Many of these policy holders receive their Empire BCBS coverage from public schools and municipal jobs. The Alliance claims that they cover over 300,000 residents between the three of them, and if 40% of that number could no longer be covered by their insurance plan when they are admitted to those hospitals it would be, said Bishop, “intolerable and suggests that patient well-being is a secondary concern to [Empire BCBS’s] bottom line.”
Andrew J, Mitchell, President and CEO of Peconic Bay Medical Center said, “There are so many different varieties of health plans within the Empire BCBS product line, that it would be very difficult to estimate the number of people” that would be unable to come to Alliance hospitals due to insurance problems. Mitchell added that without adequate reimbursement from the insurance companies, Alliance hospitals could not provide the same scope of services that they currently do provide.
“[Current negotiations] are really going nowhere,” said Paul Connor III, President of Eastern Long Island Hospital and spokesperson for the East End Health Alliance. Connor was impressed with Congressman Bishop’s interest in the issue. “Tim [Bishop] is a tremendous advocate for our hospitals and health care,” said Connor.
Bishop used the platform to reiterate his support for a government alternative to the current health care system. “This is exhibit A on why we need comprehensive health care reform,” said Bishop.
If the contract expires before a settlement can be made many local area Empire BCBS policy holders could be redirected to hospitals in Patchogue or Port Jefferson, or be required to pay “more expensive out-of-network rates.”
Even if the two sides fail to come to some sort of agreement before the July 21 deadline, New York State law mandates that all emergency patients or pregnant women in their first trimester be admitted to a hospital regardless of their insurance status. Also only Alliance hospitals will be affected and personal doctors will remain unaffected.
“I believe this status results from Empire’s failure to negotiate in good faith,” wrote the congressman in a letter addressed to Mark Wagar, president and CEO of Empire BCBS and Angela F. Braly, president and CEO of WellPoint. The letter, written directly after the press conference, stated that the Alliance hospitals are asking for reimbursement rates similar to ones they have with other insurance providers. Similarly, according to the letter, the rates proposed by Empire BCBS would result in a loss of $500 per day by hospitals.
“No reasonable person can think that this is sustainable, no reasonable person can describe Empire BCBS’s posture here as negotiating in good faith,” said Bishop at the press conference.
George D. Keckeisen, MD, president of the Southampton Hospital Medical Staff, said, “This is a problem that needs to be addressed…and we hope that with the pressure we can bring to bear from the both health care provides, both the physicians community and nurses, in addition and in conjunction with the hospitals administration…that the Blue Cross provider will actually come to the table and make a realistic proposal that we can all live with.”
Bishop’s strongly worded letter concluded with the congressman saying that he might request a federal investigation of unfair practices in the negotiations if Empire BCBS does not capitulate to what Bishop believes are more reasonable rates.

Top: Congressman Tim Bishop with Paul Connor III, spokesman for the East End Health Alliance, at Monday’s press conference.

Inset: Bruce LaValle, R.N., speaking with Jasmine Dozier, R.N. (left) and Diane Groneman, R.N. (right).

Bridgehampton Accident Leaves Watermill Man in Critical Condition

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On Sunday, July 12, a head-on car accident occurred on Montauk Highway near Poxabogue Lane in Bridgehampton at around 8:30 am after Fred Slaughter, 43, of Hackensack, New Jersey fell asleep at the wheel. According to Southampton Town Police, while asleep Slaughter crossed over the eastbound lane and onto the shoulder of the road when he awoke and swerved sharply to his right, striking an eastbound vehicle head-on near the center of the road. Police say the car that was hit was driven by a 41-year-old male resident of Watermill, whose name is being withheld pending family notification. When police arrived at the scene they found the 41-year-old seriously injured and trapped in his car, while Slaughter suffered only minor injuries. The Bridgehampton Fire Department responded and extricated the 41-year-old from the car and transported him to a landing zone where he was transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital by way of a Suffolk County Police Medi-Vac helicopter. Slaughter was taken to Southampton Hospital for his injuries. It was later determined that Slaughter’s driving privileges had been suspended eight times for numerous traffic infractions dating back to March 2008. Slaughter faces charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the second degree, a misdemeanor, and failing to maintain his lane, a traffic infraction. Slaughter has already been treated and released from the hospital, but police say the 41-year-old is still in critical condition and suffering from life threatening injuries.