Tag Archive | "Southampton Hospital"

Maria Theodoulou

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A Conversation With Dr. Maria Theodoulou, associate attending physician on breast cancer medical service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Dr. Theodoulou will be the keynote speaker at the Cancer Care of the East End sponsored forum “Conversations about Breast Cancer: Update on Medical Treatment, Side Effects, and Psychosocial Issues” at the Bridgehampton Union Free School District auditorium on Saturday, October 18.

How did your career find its focus in oncology and specifically, breast cancer care?

It’s actually a pretty straightforward story. First off, I was older when I started my formal education. I had always been interested in natural sciences and biology and I was actually sent by one of my professors at Fordham University to volunteer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering to see if I was comfortable with oncology services … It was interesting because I got to meet women with breast cancer, some who were dying, although this was all the way back in 1981.

What I found was that breast cancer is a disease with a title, but also is a disease with a number of psychological and social issues attached to it … With breast cancer, there is a constant reminder left behind no matter how pristine the surgery. Also, the sexual connotations were so huge during a time where people did not really talk about the disease.

Two weeks before medical school I actually would up needing a biopsy myself … I didn’t know what would happen, although fortunately it was benign. But at the time you didn’t know if you went into an appointment whether you would come out without your breast. I told my daughter the night before I was going to the hospital that I might come home without a breast, and only a six-year-old could say this, but she said, “Don’t worry mom. No one will really notice.”

So that is when it really began to cement with me … [In school] I was assigned to a medical oncologist, without anyone knowing the whole field of oncology and breast cancer had become fascinating to me. And on my first day, I went in to meet a patient and it was fascinating because it was a woman in her 70s coming in for a seven-year follow up appointment.

The same afternoon, I met a 32-year-old … we were addressing end of life with her. That was it for me. I kept thinking breast cancer is not one disease. My patients really do teach me every day.

How did you get involved with Cancer Care of the East End and this Saturday’s event?

Well, actually, the director of Cancer Care [Theodora Ziongas] is someone I know personally. She was a social worker and a prominent figure in caring, from a psychological perspective, with supportive measures for many of the patients who came to Memorial [Sloan-Kettering] … I have watched her career just grow and grow over the years and she has been doing just great work with Cancer Care. We got together to talk about the event, and before she even asked, I said yes. I try to do a lot of advocacy, teaching and presenting, not only in October [Breast Cancer Awareness Month], but also year round.

How has the prognosis changed for women who are diagnosed today as opposed to 10 years go?

Number one, we are diagnosing early on and less women are dying from it. In the first 15 years of my practice I can honestly say I was going to a lot of funerals. Now I go to one every few years. What has happened is the disease is now out of the closet, people are talking, we are having events like the one this Saturday, advocacy movements are just exploding, celebrities are sharing their stories … Women are more empowered and proactive and have become smarter in understanding breast cancer is not just one disease.

We also have much smarter people than I doing very important lab work developing treatments so we are able to treat women in early and advanced settings. Women are living longer now, even when the cancer has become metastatic. Even if the disease does not go away, now, using the art of medicine, not just the science, and understanding the host – their strengths, their weaknesses, their physical, emotional and psychological state, we can usually treat patients with targeted therapies that are much more effective.

You have a particular interest in the psychological and emotional impact on patients and their families. What advancement have you seen in your career in the support systems available for those battling breast cancer, or their loved ones?

Number one, and I think the most important thing, is women are talking about it; which creates a global support system. And a dialogue has developed that has really reached across the world.

Knowing you are not alone, not singled out, and being able to share information and questions is vitally important. For me this is the biggest thing … Clearly the psychological impact can be huge. Successful plastic surgery has made outstanding changes, but the patient always knows when it is a reconstructed breast, whether it is a little scar only they can see in the shower or decreased sensation in an area, there is always a reminder.

We really focus on individual patients and their strengths, whether it be home nesting – cooking, caring for families – or blue collar, white collar work environment. Regardless of who they are, covering the whole gamut of individuals out there, we work on developing those strengths to make sure those women are still those women after their diagnosis and treatment … and we are really finding ways to address the sexual issues that arise, whether it be how one views themselves, or from their partners’ perspective.

We certainly have now not just support systems, but integrated support systems where complimentary therapies or “look good, feel good,” address the physical issues moving forward. It’s amazing the wealth of support that there is available to be able to build up tools, but it is a matter of knowing who is there, what is available.

What is the future for the fight against breast cancer, in your professional opinion?

I am looking forward to being out of a job. That will be a great day – the day I no longer have work. I wake up every morning thinking, when will we come up with the cure? I know we are getting better and better, I know there are earlier diagnoses, less deaths, people are living longer. Will it happen in my lifetime? I don’t know, but I think we are getting there.

I am a great cook. I think I will open a great restaurant when I am finally out of a job.

“Conversations about Breast Cancer: Update on Medical Treatment, Side Effects, and Psychosocial Issues” will be held at the Bridgehampton Union Free School District auditorium on Saturday, October 18 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is free for members of the public. The event is sponsored by Cancer Care of the East End in cooperation with Southampton Hospital.






East End Digest – October 16, 2008

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Spooky Spirits in Southampton

The Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center will host “Spooky Spirits in the Barn” for children nine years old and under from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 25 at Rogers Mansion, 17 Meeting House Lane in Southampton, a property owned by the Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center. The event will follow Southampton Village Rag-A-Muffin parade.

Southampton Town: Noyac Preservation

With appraisals in, authorizing resolutions adopted, and negotiations concluded, Southampton Town has become the owner of nine acres of land located on Old Sag Harbor Road in Noyac.

The property is comprised of two vacant parcels designated in the Eastern GEIS area of the Town’s Community Preservation Project Plan, which identifies target properties, and is bordered by substantial tracts of already preserved land.

“This was an opportunity for the Town to add to its park, recreation, and open space holdings,” said supervisor Linda Kabot. “It links contiguous woodland properties and is in close proximity to a trail system.”

The property was purchased from the Texas Beverly Company, a 12-year old investment corporation owned by Morgan Brown and Catherine Nelson Brown, who are the daughter and ex-wife of famed developer Harry Joe “Coco” Brown Jr. Born to a prominent Hollywood family, the Beverly Hills native made his first major real estate score in buying 188 acres atop Beverly Hills, and building 115 houses there. In the mid-1990s, locals learned the name when Brown acquired 56 acres for his “Houses at Sagaponac” development and enlisted 34 leading architects to design each home.

A public hearing was held before the town board on April 8 as part of the Community Preservation Project Plan to determine if the town should acquire the Noyac parcels with Community Preservation Funds. The board then decided it to be “the best alternative for the protection of community character.” In adopting an authorizing resolution later that day, the town board allocated $1.9 million for the purchase.

New York State Assembly: CPA Requirement For Comptrollers

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced on Friday, October 10 that he will introduce legislation requiring any town comptroller in a first or second class town with a population of 15,000 to be a certified public accountant pursuant to New York State Education Law.

“Our towns have annual budgets that are in the tens of millions of dollars,” said Thiele. “The Community Preservation Fund alone generated over $90 million on the East End last year. Town budgets receive the bulk of their revenue from the property tax. Our taxpayers deserve to know that a true professional is handling and investing their money. The town comptroller’s position should not be just another patronage job.”

“At a time when the entire nation is in a financial crisis, every town is forced to make difficult decisions about their finances,” he continued. “Now, more than ever, we should ensure the town comptroller has the financial expertise needed to keep town finances operating smoothly.”

All towns on Long Island would be required to meet the requirements of the proposed law, with the exception of Shelter Island, according to Thiele. The bill will be formally introduced for the 2009 legislative session in January.

John Jermain Memorial Library: Architects Forum

The public workshop with architects Herbert S. Newman and Partners – the Connecticut-based firm selected by Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library to design the next phase of the library – will be held on Saturday October 25 from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Pierson High School cafeteria. This event will provide a forum for the community to participate in focused small-group discussions about library services, collections and programming, according to library director Cathy Creedon.

The information generated at the workshop will be used for future discussions about space, program division and location. 

“I am excited about this event, and can think of no better way to celebrate the building’s 98th birthday and no better way to guarantee the library’s centennial is all it can be,” said Creedon. The library building’s birthday was on Friday, October 10.

Southampton Hospital: Free Flu Clinic

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

Southampton Hospital will be holding a free flu clinic for adults only on Wednesday, October 29 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The clinic will be held in Parrish Memorial Hall, which is located on the northeast corner of Lewis Street and Herrick Road in Southampton. For more information please call 726-8700.

East Hampton: Group for Wildlife

Responding to the East Hampton Town Board’s decision to expand hunting in seven town areas, the attorney for the East Hampton Group for Wildlife has sent the town a notice of dangerous condition. The notice says the expansion of hunting “may cause serious injuries to the general public” and includes risks such as the possible shooting of pets and deer/vehicle collisions resulting from “frightened animals running into the roadway.” The notice puts the town on warning, and it could be used in court in the event that a citizen suffers harm from the expansion of hunting and files a claim against the town.

The hunting decision was made at a town board meeting on August 5. The notice was mailed to the town on September 30.

“The decision to expand waterfowl hunting to a place such as Gerard Drive in Springs, with its numerous homes, creates unnecessary risks,” said William Crain, president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife.

The notice adds that recent expansion of hunting areas “exacerbates risks created by the expansion of hunting to Jacob’s Farm and other areas in 2004,” as well as the town’s permission to hunt on lands that border residential areas or include hiking trails.

For more information, residents can call Crain at 668-3384 or e-mail billcrain@aol.com.

Bay Street Theatre: Election Night Coverage

Tired of watching the political debates at home by yourself? Wish you could share the ups and downs of the evening with your neighbors and friends but don’t have a big enough screen? Come to Bay Street. On Wednesday, October 15, as the presidential candidates gathered at Hofstra for the final debate, Bay Street hosted the community as the event as it unfolded on a feature-film size screen.

And, whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent or undecided, cast your vote on November 4 and then join your friends again for Election night fun.

“These political evenings afford Bay Street the opportunity to be a gathering place for our community”, said general manager Tracy Mitchell.


East End Digest – October 9

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Bridgehampton Student Honored

On September 18, Bridgehampton School senior Pablo Londono was awarded the 2008 County Executive Achievement Award. This award recognizes students who have demonstrated growth and personal achievement, overcome adversity or met challenges successfully. The awards dinner was held in Holbrook at Village Lombardi’s where Louis Medina, director of the Suffolk County Youth Bureau, presented Londono with the honor.

Londono aspires to be a police officer and is currently enrolled in the law enforcement program at HB Ward Tech in Riverhead each school morning. Londono then spends afternoons at Bridgehampton School completing his twelfth grade course work. He is employed as a waiter at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, and also works with the Sag Harbor Village Police Department as a traffic control officer.

Southampton Town: Preservation

The Town of Southampton has officially acquired two sought after parcels slated for preservation, according to details released from town hall on Tuesday, September 30.

The first, the Baird property, consists of 40.5 acres of vacant land on Red Creek Road and Old Squires Road in Hampton Bays at a purchase price of $4,000,000.

“We are very fortunate to be able to buy this property,” said town supervisor Linda Kabot. “If we hadn’t been able to act, this pristine land would be a 13 home subdivision.”

Kabot added that the Baird parcel is located in the Paumanok Path Trail area of the Community Preservation Project Plan. It is named after a hiking-trail project of regional importance that will ultimately extend 125 miles from Rocky Point to Montauk Point. It has been a municipal planning objective for more than 12 years.

In conjunction with the second acquisition deal, the town became part owners with Suffolk County of a piece of the Topping family farm. The 7.54 ace parcel is located on Halsey Lane in Bridgehampton and also lies within the town’s farmland Preservation Target Area. The Southampton Town Board has considered the Topping Farm a “high priority” under the town’s Community Preservation Project Plan, and the $2,625,312 needed to fund 60 percent of the $4,375,520 purchase price will come from the Community Preservation Fund.

The recent closing marks the second time within the past year the two governments have partnered to keep the Topping land a farm forever. Last fall, the town paid $8,856,252 to acquire the development rights for 25 acres. Like the current 7.54 acre buy, the county contributed 40 percent of the purchased price.

East Hampton: Centarian Celebrated

On Thursday, October 2, East Hampton Senior Nutrition participants, close friends and family gathered at the East Hampton Senior Center to honor the milestone 100th birthday of Paul Miano. The day was also recognized by the East Hampton Town Board in a proclamation, presented to Miano by board member Brad Loewen.

Miano was born in Brooklyn on October 1, 1908. He worked as an accountant until his retirement at the age of 72, continuing on as a consultant until he was 80. Shortly thereafter, he joined the East Hampton Senior Nutrition Center, and has been a member for the last 20 years. Miano and his wife, Eileen, purchased property in East Hampton in 1969, moving into the residence full-time in 1980.

According to the nutrition center, Miano credits a daily, one-mile walk and his friendly nature for his longevity — never passing anyone without saying hello, making many friends along the way.

Bridgehampton: Cancer Conversations

On Saturday, October 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Southampton Hospital and Cancer Care of the East End will host a forum, “Conversations about Breast Cancer: Update on Medical Treatment, Side Effects, and Psychosocial Issues” at the Bridgehampton Union Free School District auditorium.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Maria Theodoulou, associate attending physician for breast cancer service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Care Center. The day will also feature a host of panel discussions, as well as break out sessions designed to tackle issues like stress reduction, intimacy and cancer, nutrition, and how to discuss the disease with children. Resource booths will be available throughout the day.

For more information, call (516) 364-8130 or visit Hamptonscancercare.org.

Stony Brook-Southampton: Open House

Stony Brook Southampton, the newest addition to the SUNY system, is holding two events for high school students who may be considering college in the near future.

On Saturday, October 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., an Open House will be held in the Avram Theater on the Southampton campus. Then on Columbus Day, Monday, October 13, high school students are invited to sit in on real college classes with Stony Brook Southampton’s faculty from 12:50 to 3:40 p.m.

To reserve a spot for one or both events, call 632-5035 or e-mail joinsouthampton@stonybrook.edu.

Now in its second full year, Stony Brook Southampton continues to grow. Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Education had approved three new majors including Ecosystems and Human Impact, Environmental Design, Policy and Planning, and Sustainability Studies, which join SBS’s existing three majors in Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences and Marine Vertebrate Biology.

A “green” business major is also being introduced this fall. ??This year, the student body has almost doubled in size to over 300 full-time students and approximately 400 students overall while maintaining the same rigorous admissions standards as parent Stony Brook University. The number of classes offered, majors and professors has also increased. ??More residence halls are online with over 150 students living on campus now; again, almost double last year’s number. Residence Life has also added a community service element that will see more Southampton students going into the larger community to volunteer with not-for-profit, community and civic groups. This past spring, new state monies were announced for the Marine Center and the Student Center. ??

Long Island Farm Bureau: Scholarship

The Long Island Farm Bureau invites all Nassau and Suffolk County High School seniors to apply for a $1,000 scholarship from Long Island Farm Bureau. Students must be planning to continue their education in a career related to the agricultural industry, live or work on a farm involved in agriculture and be active members of the community.

In addition, the Long Island scholarship winner will have an opportunity to compete for additional scholarship funds – $1,500, $1,200 and $1,000 – at the 2008 New York Farm Bureau “Spring Break” Conference. The deadline for submission is November 21. For more information, call 727-3777.

Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association: Grants Available

The Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association is offering an opportunity for innovators to apply for grants. Applications will be accepted from nursery and landscape professionals, students, clubs or organizations, colleges, universities and schools, research facilities, botanical gardens or arboreta.

Awards may be presented for activities, projects, studies, programs, equipment development, courses, tours, trips or other endeavors that may qualify. Proposals must have some impact on the local nursery, landscape or retail horticulture industry. In reviewing applications from qualifying institutions, the innovative nature of the request as well as the effectiveness of the proposal in enhancing learning in the field of horticulture will be considered. Applications must be postmarked by November 1 and include the title of a proposed innovative activity, contact information, a summary of objectives, project outline, anticipated costs, how the grant would facilitate the project and explanation of local benefits. Applicants should also include a request for funds at a maximum of $2,500 and the date needed to start. For more information, call the Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association, Inc. (516) 249-0545 or log on to linla@nysnla.com. 

Hospitals Successfully Negotiate With GHI/HIP

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Southampton Hospital — and the two other local medical facilities that are part of the East End Health Alliance — successfully negotiated an agreement with two insurance providers on Friday, September 19. The Alliance had issued a press release on Monday announcing that subscribers to both GHI and HIP — which are presently in the process of merging — would soon be out of network. Friday’s negotiation, however, narrowly made the deadline and prevented the change in protection.

On Wednesday, negotiators from the Alliance were in a telephone conference to try to meet a midnight Friday deadline with HIP, whose contract was set to expire with Southampton Hospital and Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. If negotiations failed, then patients with HIP who normally receive care at those two hospitals would have needed to find other institutions if they hoped to be covered by their insurance. Patients already scheduled for procedures, as well as emergency cases,  would still have been covered.

Ilene Margolin, a spokesperson for both GHI and HIP,  declined to elaborate on the companies’ positions, saying “we don’t negotiate in the press.”

At issue, according to Paul J. Connor, spokesman for the Alliance, was the amount the hospitals are reimbursed from the insurance companies for care they give.

“It doesn’t cost any less to care for a patient here than it does at any other hospital on Long Island,” said Connor this week.

“It is critical to quality patient care at our East End hospitals that our insurance reimbursement rates keep pace with the costs of providing patient care,” Mr. Connor explained. “As with all hospitals, our costs including pharmaceutical, utility and labor expenses, continue to increase significantly.”

The negotiations also included GHI. Both HIP and GHI have the same parent company, Emblem Health. The out-of-network deadline for Peconic Bay Medical Center and Southampton Hospitals for GHI was October 5, 2008. Eastern Long Island Hospital’s out-of-network deadline for HIP and GHI was November 13.

The three hospitals in the Alliance — which formed earlier this summer after several years of fits and starts with another, failed, relationship — have been attempting to have their various contracts with insurance providers all on the same schedule with each other. Earlier this year they successfully negotiated new contracts, also fighting over more equitable reimbursements, with Empire Blue Cross, Oxford and United Health Care. The managed care agreement hammered out on Friday will for two years.

“This will be the last of the major insurers for this year,” said Connor. Blue Cross will come up again next year, he said, but it is the goal of the Alliance to have all of the contracts extended to two years each.


East End Digest – September 18

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Celebrating Local Ecology On The Greenbelt

On Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will mark the 10th Annual Long Pond Greenbelt Celebration Day. Trail hikes with botanists, birders, local historians and a snake expert will be on hand, as well as Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre, ready to provide children’s activities, and exhibits from local environmental organizations. There will also be updates on the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt’s own vineyard field restoration project. Confirmed exhibitors include South Fork Natural History Society, Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund, Southampton Town Environment Division, Southampton Town Trustees, The Nature Conservancy, Southampton Trails Preservation Society, East Hampton Trails Preservation Society, Group for the East End, Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, Long Island Trail Lovers’ Conference and the John Jermain Library.

Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt is a non-profit membership organization formed in 1997 dedicated to the preservation, stewardship and public appreciation of the Long Pond Greenbelt — a unique expanse of over 600 protected acres of freshwater swamps, wetlands, and woodlands, stretching from Ligonee Creek in Sag Harbor to Sapaponack Pond in Sagaponack.

For more information on the celebration, call Sandra Ferguson at 537-3752.

Southampton Town: High-Tech Park At Gabreski

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and councilman Chris Nuzzi traveled to Hauppauge on Monday, September 8 to join Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy in announcing a county deal struck with a major development firm to build an industrial-commercial park at Gabreski Airport.

The choosing of Rechler Equity Partners of Melville marks a milestone in the long-awaited collaboration between Suffolk County and the Town of Southampton to re-develop 58.6 acres of industrial land into a homeland security-oriented “Hampton Business and Technology Park.”

The project is part of a larger effort to foster economic development in the region, and more specifically to generate revenue from the county-owned property. Both the county and the town of Southampton have had long-held plans to upgrade Gabreski’s facilities and transform the area into a long-term economic rejuvenator.

“We want attract businesses offering year-round, decent-paying, jobs for East End residents,” said Kabot. “The Town of Southampton is excited about the selection of Rechler Equity Partners to capitalize the necessary improvements and create a visually-pleasing business center. The initial concept plan includes a 145-room hotel and conference center, as well as technology-based industries.”

The redevelopment will be made possible through the Town’s designation of the area as an Airport Planned Development District (APDD), with an accompanying Master Plan to detail site requirements and the types of businesses allowed there. Long-standing issues over zoning and suitable uses slowed the project for years, but it was revived and brought to fruition through the cooperative efforts of County Executive Levy and the Southampton Town board led by former supervisor-turned county economic development commissioner, Patrick Heaney.

Under the APDD, Gabreski Airport will be converted into a hub of commercial activity that will permit a host of high-tech industrial, office, service, support, ancillary retail, transportation, lodging, and related uses. In making the changes, the objective is to lure businesses involved in homeland security, alternative energies, and “green” research and development. Particular attention will also be paid to courting producers of film, television, and digital media.

In addition, the New York State Department of Economic Development designated 48 acres within the proposed park as an “Empire Zone” in 2004 for enhanced incentives to stimulate private investment. They include lower business tax rates, reimbursement of local taxes, exemption from state sales tax, lower utility rates, and up to $3,000 in annual credits for each new employee hired. The Gabreski Airport PDD is one of five such areas in Suffolk County, and officials say the designation complements Suffolk’s effort to increase investment in commercial sewer capacity upgrades and the potential development of workforce housing.

Overall, according to the county, the area’s redevelopment is anticipated to generate more than $7 million in rental revenue to Suffolk County over the next 10 years, and more than $40 million over the life of the 40-year lease.

Supervisor Kabot credited Deputy County Executive Jim Morgo “for helping to build consensus among community stakeholders and environmental advocates to balance the need for economic development, cap the site’s build out capacity, and ensure the County’s commitment to not grow aviation uses at the airport.”

“This project is a great example of all levels of government and the community working together,” concluded Nuzzi. “It not only offers an essential component for our affordable housing initiatives, but promises the creation of economic development opportunities within the town.”

Stony Brook Southampton: Doubles Students

It’s back to school for Stony Brook Southampton. Now in its second full year, the campus continues to grow as planned.

The student body has almost doubled in size to over 300 full-time students and approximately 400 students overall while maintaining the same rigorous admissions standards as parent Stony Brook University. The number of classes offered, majors and professors has also increased.

“We are very pleased with the progress we have made here at Stony Brook Southampton with our curriculum and our infrastructure,” Interim Dean Martin Schoonen said. “Students really seem to be responding to our focus on the environment and sustainability, and that shows with their increased interest in our programs.”

Building continues on a new library while more space for student affairs and student services will open in early October in the renovated Atlantic Hall building. This follows the recent renovation of the Avram Theater and Gallery that saw the Sustainable Treasures vocal series and the Southampton Writers Conference doubles its offerings this past summer. This past spring, new state monies were announced for the Marine Center and the Student Center. The historic and symbolic Windmill on campus is also undergoing a facelift with new blades being installed later this fall.

More residence halls are online with over 150 students living on campus now; again, almost double last year’s number. Residence Life has also added a community service element that will see more Southampton students going into the larger community to volunteer with not-for-profit, community and civic groups.

Stony Brook Southampton, a model of sustainability that was featured in The New York Times this past summer and on “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” and “The Today Show” this past spring, also continues with its plans to build one of the nation’s truly green campuses. All new buildings will have LEED certification, while, already, lighting systems, a greenhouse and even vehicles on campus are energy efficient and use alternative forms of energy. The school café doesn’t use deep fryers and uses local produce, some of which is grown on campus, whenever possible.

Earlier this year, Dr. Schoonen announced that the New York State Department of Education had approved three cutting-edge, new majors for Southampton: Ecosystems and Human Impact; Environmental Design, Policy and Planning, and Sustainability Studies, which join SBS’s existing three majors in Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences and Marine Vertebrate Biology. A “green” Business major is also in the works for Fall 2009.

Southampton Hospital: Collecting Clothing

Southampton Hospital proudly announces a new fundraising system utilizing the collection of used clothing. This concept will help to raise additional funds towards the expansion of the Hospital’s Breast Health Center in 2009. The pink metal containers, which stand 5x5x6 in size, raise awareness of the Breast Health Center, while housing all unwanted used clothing. Although new to the Hospital, this program has proven fundraising success. The company administering this program, Earthrite Textile Recycling, is presently working with North Shore LIJ, Southside Hospital, Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Imaging Center, Breast Cancer Help Inc. and its Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center. For more information on this program, please contact Earthrite Textile Recycling at 580-7092.

Westhampton Beach: Restoring Environment

Sun Stream USA, The Renewable Energy Company, located in Southampton will take part in an upcoming CURE (Classmates United in Restoring the Environment) meeting at Westhampton Beach High School on Friday, September 19 at 2:30 p.m. to help kick-off the year’s CAUSE program at the school.

The CAUSE (CURE Alumni Undertaking for Solar Energy) program is made up of alumni and students of CURE, who work to raise awareness about environmental protection and conservation.

CAUSE was developed by Jok Kommer, the environmental and marine science teacher at Westhampton Beach High School and Brian Tymann, Director of Operations at Sun Stream USA.

This year’s CAUSE program will focus on developing and installing two renewable energy solutions at Westhampton Beach High School. One system will use solar power-to-power waterfall pumps in the school’s new courtyard, and the other solar solution will provide back-up power to the school’s science lab, which contains many living organism such as marine animals, reptiles, plants, and a working tidal salt marsh ecosystem.

Suffolk County: Text Ban Begins

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy was joined by County Legislator Jay Schneiderman at a press conference Tuesday afternoon to remind Suffolk drivers that effective next week the text message ban will be in place for drivers in the county.

Suffolk’s landmark legislation banning text messaging while driving — sponsored by Legislator Schneiderman and co-sponsored by Legislator Jon Cooper — passed in May, was signed into law in June of this year and will formally take effect September 21. Violations will carry a fine of $150.

“Drivers of any age, but most especially young drivers who have practically grown up with a cell phone in their hands, need to realize how distracting typing and reading text messages can be while behind the wheel of a car,” said Levy.

“This groundbreaking law continues the long tradition of Suffolk County taking the lead in adopting innovative and important legislation that sets an example for the rest of the nation,” said Schneiderman, noting that similar bans are under consideration in Nassau and in New York City.

East End Digest – September 11

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North Sea: Bocce Ball Finals

Councilman Chris Nuzzi, Trustee Brian Tymann and other members of the Southampton Bocce League played the final game of the season at North Sea Community Park on September 2. The Pollino Crushers were victorious over the Founders in the championship game.

New York State: Thiele Asks Paterson To Sign Gas Bill

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. released a copy of a letter last week that he sent to Governor David Paterson requesting the governor sign two pieces of legislation. The two bills aim to reduce gasoline prices – one allowing gasoline distributors and retailers to purchase and sell unbranded motor fuels and another that would prohibit the marketing technique known as “zone pricing.”

Thiele, a longtime sponsor of legislation to lower gasoline prices, writes, “Unfortunately, my Assembly District has been unfairly subjected to this scheme for far too long. Gasoline prices on the South Fork of Long Island are often higher than any other prices found in western areas of Long Island.”

Thiele has requested the State Attorney General’s Office commence an investigation into gasoline prices on eastern Long Island. The results of that investigation are pending.

“I hope the governor realizes that although prices have begun to decrease, zone pricing continues to be a problem plaguing residents and families who work and visit the East End. In addition, allowing distributors to sell unbranded fuels will result in lower prices at the pump.”

Southampton Town: Roof Replacement

Southampton officials informed residents today that work will soon begin to replace town hall’s aging roof, and to make repairs to the building’s cupola, chimney, flashing, gutters, and similar fixtures.

“The work is necessary to fix the leaks and other problems at town hall each time it rains,” said supervisor Linda Kabot. “We expect the project to begin in mid-September, and weather permitting, will be completed by the end of November.”

In order to conduct the necessary repairs, scaffolding will be erected around town hall and remain until the work is finished. Because of the presence of trucks, dumpsters, and other equipment, certain parts of the parking lot will be closed for limited amounts of time.

However, “there will be no interruption of town functions or service,” added the supervisor, “Town hall will remain open during regular business hours.”

According to the town’s department of general services, the Southampton Village Trustees and building inspector have been made aware of the project, and letters will be sent to town employees, as well as the surrounding community — including Southampton Elementary School on Pine Street.

During the planning phase, the town learned that certain components of the roof — such as the tar flashing and one of the three layers of shingles to be removed — contain a tiny amount of asbestos. Pursuant to federal and state law, the town must undertake an abatement project to remove these materials safely. To do so, the town has hired a New York State-licensed asbestos contractor, and retained an independent consultant to oversee the efforts. According to the consultant, the asbestos-containing material is considered “non-friable,” in that its fibers are bound or locked into the product. Because of this, they will not become airborne when removed. Nevertheless, air quality testing will be conducted regularly within town hall while the abatement work is underway.

At the request of the town, Southampton Village Trustees granted permission for work to begin each weekday morning at around 6 a.m., enabling the abatement work to commence each day in advance of town hall’s opening. It most cases, it will conclude by noon. A smaller, additional amount of work around higher traffic areas such as the entrances will be done on Saturdays when the building is closed. However, to minimize noise-related disturbances, the Saturday work will be performed by hand.

“We are making every effort to ensure the work on town hall is completed in a safe, clean, professional manner, and as quickly as possible,” concluded Kabot. “We appreciate the patience of the community and its visitors while these critical repairs take place.”

Suffolk County: Beach Cleanup

Chairman of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Environment, Planning, and Agriculture Committee Jay Schneiderman announced Suffolk County will once again participate in the 23rd Annual Beach Cleanup on Saturday, September 20. The Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of the marine and coastal environment, coordinates New York’s involvement in the annual September International Coastal Cleanup.

Each year the American Littoral Society enlists the aid of beach captains from local businesses, civic associations, scout troops, schools, SCUBA diving clubs, environmental organizations and individuals to organize volunteers to clean up shoreline debris. The cleanup usually takes about three hours and no special skills are needed. Volunteers pick up the debris and note the kind of debris on data cards, which are sent to the Ocean Conservancy. The information is then analyzed and used to evaluate existing pollution abatement programs and to develop new national and international policies to control debris in order to protect the health and safety of humans and marine life.

“With continuing efforts and dedication from volunteers, our local beaches will remain the source of beauty, pleasure and prosperity so many generations have enjoyed,” said Schneiderman.

Clean-ups are scheduled at several sites within Suffolk County. Contact site captain Jorie Latham at 324-1267 for information on the cleanup in East Hampton, at Louse and Gerard Points on September 20. In Southampton, a beach cleanup will be held at Sagg Main Beach on September 19. Call Jean Hartnagel at 765-6450 for information.

For a complete list of the participating sites in Suffolk County, as well as the name and phone number of the beach captains who will say where and when to meet, log on to www.alsnyc.org or call their HOTLINE 1-800-449-0790.

Last year, 9,339 volunteers cleaned and documented 142,243 pounds of debris along 677 miles of New York State’s shoreline.

New York State: Hurricane Assistance For Gustav

Governor David Paterson deployed an interagency team of New York State disaster management specialists last week to help assist Hurricane Gustav-battered parishes in Louisiana. The 24-person team began a two-week tour of duty and is staged in Hammond, Louisiana, to assist one of four battered parishes – New Orleans, Palquemines, St. Bernard or Jefferson – in recovery efforts. Team members are specialists in managing the various aspects of response and recovery including command, operations, planning and logistics.

The deployment of the disaster specialists is the latest assistance New York State is providing to hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast. The New York National Guard has sent helicopters and personnel as a part of the Gustav relief effort. Additionally, the New York City Fire Department is deploying its Incident Management Team (IMT) to aid Louisiana.

“Even when Gustav was on the horizon, New York State was prepared and ready to lend a helping hand to our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast,” said Paterson. “Fortunately, the damage caused by this storm was not as severe as was initially feared; but there is still work to be done. New York State will always be prepared to answer the call to assist the residents here and across the country in their time of need.”

The State IMT, which departed Albany on Tuesday, September 2, came about because the state is a member of EMAC, which establishes a mutual partnership with the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and three territories to provide aid assistance in times of emergency.

As a part of the September Preparedness Month observance, New York State has unveiled its new “Aware/Prepare” website, www.nyprepare.gov — a one-stop shop for New Yorkers looking for safety information.

New York State: Mobile Home Rights

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week that a bill he co-sponsored relating to a right of first refusal for manufactured home owners has been signed by Governor David Paterson.

The bill would provide resident manufactured homeowners the opportunity to purchase their park by and through a homeowner’s association within 120 days from the time the park owner accepts an offer to purchase the park. In order to be eligible for a right of first refusal, a homeowner’s association would be required to notify the park owner of its existence and register such information with the county in which the manufactured home park is located. If such a contract were not executed within 120 days and the park owner thereafter offered the park at a price lower than the price specified in his notice to the association, then the association would have an additional 10 days to meet the price, terms and conditions.

“This legislation gives residents the chance to save their park by purchasing it, whenever the park owner seeks to sell the facility,” explained Thiele. “This will insure that existing parks can continue as an important source of affordable housing, especially for senior citizens.”

Thiele sponsored the legislation, which passed the assembly in the 2008 legislative session. The bill would allow homeowners to challenge rent increases that exceed the consumer price index and cannot be substantiated by the park owners. Under current law, manufactured home owners who rent lots have no legal remedy for unjustifiable increases.

“I am pleased this legislation passed the assembly,” said Thiele. “Unfortunately, the homeowner lacks bargaining power and pretty much renders them captive to whatever terms the park owner may choose to impose. This bill would provide the homeowner with a mechanism to legally challenge an increase. I can assure my constituents that I will reintroduce this bill in January when the 2009 legislative session commences.”

Thiele has been working with the chairman of the assembly housing committee, assemblyman Vito Lopez and Assemblyman Marc Alessi on the legislation. Thiele also participated in a public hearing in Riverhead last fall specifically on this bill.

The legislation would be subject to the creation of a local law by the county in which the manufactured home park is located.

Southampton Hospital: Mind Body Wellness

Southampton Hospital’s Mind Body Wellness Program has announced the next program in their series, the Medical Symptom Reduction Class. Classes will be on Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m. beginning September 24 through November 12 and will take place at the Hospital’s “Bridge Room” located on the second floor.

The program teaches methods on learning to reduce physical and emotional problems caused by an illness. The course is taught by mind/body/wellness certified staff, trained at Harvard Medical College and is covered by most insurance companies. Early registration is required as a medical evaluation is required and space is limited. For more information, please call 726-8620



East End Digest August 7

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Southampton Hospital: Honored Employee

(Left to Right) Paul Davin, Vice President of Human Resources, Robert S. Chaloner, Anna Capozello, Sheryl Bahamondes, Robin Pfennig and Matthew Cicillini at a ceremony honoring Capozello as employee of the quarter at Southampton Hospital.

Capozello, a cashier/dietary worker in the Nutritional Services department at the hospital, has been chosen as the Hospital’s Employee of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2008. Her selection was celebrated at a brunch in her honor last week, where Hospital President and CEO Robert S. Chaloner presented her with a trophy and various gifts recognizing her achievement. 

Montauk: 77-Acre Preservation

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee and The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced they have reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 77-acre oceanfront parcel of land in Montauk. Negotiations for the agreement were spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy.

The $18 million acquisition of the property owned by television talk show personality Dick Cavett will be shared equally between the three parties, and adds to the vast amount of publicly held, environmentally significant lands in Montauk  – which includes the 125-acre Amsterdam Beach, the Sanctuary State Preserve (the former Andy Warhol Estate now owned by The Nature Conservancy), Camp Hero State Park, Montauk Point State Park and Theodore Roosevelt County Park.

“Partnerships such as these, among three levels of government, are exactly what are needed right now to ensure that vital tracts of open space and farmland in Suffolk County are protected,” said Levy. “The Cavett property was one of the first parcels to be included in my comprehensive inventory of environmentally sensitive lands. Through the hard work and diligence of The Nature Conservancy, and with the cooperation of the town and the state, we will ensure this unique property will remain as it is today.”

“We are thrilled that Mr. Cavett has accepted the offer,” said Nancy Kelley, executive director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island, which negotiated the deal with Mr. Cavett.  “It is not an exaggeration to say that we have worked toward this outcome for 20 years.” 

 “We greatly appreciate the financial support from Suffolk County and New York State,” said McGintee.  East Hampton will fund its $6 million share of the acquisition from the Community Preservation Fund, a 2% transfer tax on real estate sales. 

“This is a key parcel for us to protect,” said McGintee, “One that demonstrates exceedingly well the importance of having the CPF.”  

Erik Kulleseid, deputy director for land acquisition of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said the State has long recognized the importance the Cavett parcel. 

“The entire 265 acres of the Montauk Moorlands has been a state conservation priority for years, and we are pleased to support the Town and County in their efforts to protect this unique part of the State,” he said.  

The property consists of scenic bluffs along the Atlantic Ocean, as well as freshwater wetlands that support several state rare species. The deal is subject to execution of contracts and governmental approvals over the next few months.

Since Levy’s inauguration in 2004, Suffolk has preserved nearly 5,500 acres – which is six and one-half times the size of New York’s Central Park – including 49 farms. The program continues to aggressively pursue the purchase of environmentally significant parcels and farmlands.

Southampton: Strides For Life

The third annual Strides for Life fundraising race will take place at 9 a.m. on Sunday, August 24 in Southampton. The three-mile fun run/walk around Lake Agawam is a cornerstone event of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF), which funds innovative lung cancer research grants at leading cancer centers across the country. Co-Anchor of FOX 5 news Rosanna Scotto is Honorary Chairman of the race and will be at the start and finish line to cheer participants on.  Following the race at 9:45 a.m., there will be a 50-yard dash for children, and a medal presentation ceremony.

One hundred percent of proceeds from last year’s Strides for Life went directly towards ten lung cancer research grants of the highest scientific merit. In two years, LCRF has awarded grants totaling over $700,000 to expedite research and possible cures for the disease that will claim an estimated 160,000 lives this year in the U.S. 

“The money raised from this year’s race will allow LCRF to fund additional scientific research grants at leading cancer centers across the country,” said Deborah Walsh, Executive Director of LCRF. “It is incredible how many people from the surrounding community and all over New York turn out to help give this deadly disease a stronger voice, and positively impact research funding,” she adds.

For more information about Strides for Life, including registration instructions, or to make an online pledge for lung cancer research, go to www.lungcancerresearchfoundation.org.

Suffolk Legislature: Public Safety For EH

The Suffolk Legislature this week voted to give East Hampton Town $1.1 million for public safety purposes—funds that the financially-pressed and, according to critics, financially inept town, would have otherwise lost because of its failure to file the proper paperwork.

“See we have a big heart!” declared William Lindsay, presiding officer of the legislature after the vote Tuesday in Hauppauge.

Not only East Hampton Town but the Town of Shelter Island, the Village of Westhampton Beach and several villages in western Suffolk that are not part of the Suffolk County Police District also received funds—all due to them but for which they, too, failed to properly apply, Deputy Suffolk County Executive Ben Zwirn told the legislature.

“Even though they didn’t meet the requirements, we want to give them the money,” said Mr. Zwirn speaking on behalf of the administration of County Executive Steve Levy.

The money derives from the quarter-percent of the sales tax earmarked for public safety.  Most of this money goes to the Suffolk County Police Department. Indeed representatives of towns (all five East End towns) and villages outside the police district have long complained that far too much of it goes to the county police. This alleged inequity was the subject of a recent lawsuit, later dropped, brought by the East End representatives on the legislature joined by several municipalities outside the police district.

However, some of the sales tax money—even if not what the towns and villages think is enough—does go to the towns and villages outside the police district.

But they must properly apply for the funds.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk, whose district includes East Hampton Town, told his fellow legislators that the failure of East Hampton Town and the other municipalities to do that was “embarrassing.” He and Legislator Edward Romaine of Center Moriches, the other legislator who represents the East End, were lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit brought earlier this year.

Zwirn detailed to the legislature the amounts of money involved. East Hampton Town would get the lion’s share: $533,767 in monies due to it in 2006 and $586,217 for monies due for last year. He said that because the town failed to make proper application for the 2006 dollars, the 2007 funds were “held up.”

The Town of Shelter Island is to receive $95,561 and the Village of Westhampton Beach $66,501.        

Zwirn said that the “money was isolated” in the county’s books by its financial officers — so the county knew how much the towns and villages were due, even though they did not do the proper paperwork to get the funds.

Schneiderman asked whether there was a “legal requirement” for the municipalities to now receive the dollars.

Zwirn said there was no such requirement, prompting Mr. Lindsay to make his comment about having “a heart.”

The resolution to provide the otherwise lost dollars was sent to the legislature under a “certificate of necessity” signed by Levy, which allowed for immediate action by the panel on the measure, and was approved by a vote of 18-to-0.

-Karl Grossman




Three East End Hospitals Form and Alliance

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The three East End hospitals last week rolled out a new agreement they have forged together crafted to bring a broader and more balanced menu of services to local residents, give them a stronger bargaining position and find economies that will make the three institutions more financially stable.

The East End Health Alliance comes about ten years after the three hospitals had formed the Peconic Health Corporation, an ill-fated agreement that, some say, was restrictive and hamstrung the institutions.

“It’s too cumbersome a structure if every decision has to be approved by everyone in the room,” said Southampton Hospital President and CEO Robert Chaloner. “Nothing gets done.”

The organization of the earlier agreement required that each of the three hospitals had to agree unanimously on a proposal in order for it to move forward, said Chaloner. And that is the biggest difference between the two organizations. The Alliance includes a board made up of 21 members, seven from each hospital, and a simple majority will get a proposal approved. A super-majority — a much higher percentage of aye votes — would still be required for certain major decisions, such as creating debt.

As designed, the board will have authority over long term and strategic planning, and will be responsible for approving each hospital’s budget. In addition they would implement and approve programs and approve affiliations and partnerships, such as one being developed with Stony Brook University Hospital.

Individual hospitals would still be responsible for day-to-day management of services and operations, fundraising and developing the budgets that would be approved by the Alliance board.

“I lived through the first alliance, and I think there is a whole new spirit,” said Southampton Hospital Vice Chairman Richard Hiegel at signing ceremonies for the new alliance at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead on Friday. Hiegel said he believed the alliance would put an end to what he called “destructive competition,” and would allocate services between the three “in a reasonable way.”

“The board and staff are committed,” he promised. “There is no doubt we will succeed — we must succeed.”

The new alliance is largely the result of recommendations from the Berger Commission, a state constituted panel that was formed to look at health care in New York for the 21st century. The panel, which released its recommendations early last year, was charged with studying the needs and services of hospitals and nursing homes across the state to ensure they were appropriate to meeting community needs, as well as providing affordable and meaningful care with economies that would guarantee fiscal stability.

In some cases, the Berger Commission actually recommended the shutting of some facilities, said Chaloner. In the case of the East End hospitals, they were urged to work together.

“When we were told by the commission to work with fellow hospitals, I said ‘Sheeeesh, here we go again’,” said Jesse R. Goodale III, chairman of the Peconic Bay Medical Center (formerly Central Suffolk Hospital).

Goodale, who will serve as the Alliance’s second vice chair, said his own hospital was undergoing a major construction project at the time.

“I said ‘Keep your eye on the prize, and that’s the construction’,” Goodale related during Friday’s ceremony.

But Goodale was enthusiastic about the new arrangement.

“The construction is still the major prize, but it’s not the only prize,” he told the crowd. “The new goal is when I can say to someone, ‘Why don’t you visit our hospital,’ and take them to Southampton; or say ‘Why don’t you see what we’re doing,’ and bring them to Eastern Long Island.”

Southampton Hospital itself is confronting demands and pressures on its facility, and will now be subject to review by the East End Health Alliance for any major changes. It has explored possible sites for expansion or building a new facility, and while property owned by the Elks Lodge of Southampton on CR 39 has been targeted, Chaloner said they are still considering other options.

“We need to do something with the facility, that is accepted,” said Chaloner. “What goes into it is something we will have extensive discussions about. Also, what is the financial reality? And what is a good site?”

In all, the alliance will serve a population of about 300,000 people across eastern Long Island’s 300 square miles, and provide care to approximately 16,000 inpatients and 60,000 emergency room patients. And while each of the hospitals continue to have a mandate to offer services such as emergency rooms, operating rooms and a minimum number of in-patient beds, each hospital will also be developing their own specialties. Peconic Bay Medical Center will specialize in physical rehabilitation and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport will expand their already significant psychological services. Southampton will continue to grow its women’s services and will begin phase two of their obstetrics and gynecology expansion, which will be regionally dominant.

“People ask why, if we’re going to move, would we still do this,” said Chaloner. “Any move is still five or six years away and a lot of babies are going to be born between now and then.”

 “All these services require great expense,” said Chaloner. And the creation of the Alliance brings with it a $14 million award from the state to further develop the specialties.

Part of the challenge all three hospitals face is the migration of patients to hospital and health facilities further west on Long Island and into New York City.

“Our agenda is to focus on needs and opportunities across the East End,” said Chaloner, who will serve as a board member for the new alliance. “Over the next two years we will do a fundamental analysis.” In particular, he said, they want to pursue the patients who are leaving for cancer and cardiac care.

 “When we went through the Berger process, we were told that we had created a model,” said State Senator Ken Lavalle at Friday’s ceremony, who acknowledged the process had been a difficult one. “Today we are bearing the fruits of tough decision making and putting in place a health care delivery system that will be the envy of the rest of the state.”

Oxford Health Negotiating With Local Hospitals

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East End residents who are subscribers to Oxford Health Insurance may soon find themselves looking for other hospitals. All three local hospitals, including Southampton, Peconic Bay in Riverhead and Eastern Long Island in Greenport, are currently negotiating with Oxford and its parent company, United Health Care, to maintain contracts for insurance. But their deadline is fast approaching. If an agreement is not reached by June 6, the hospitals will be “out of network” beginning June 7 for Oxford subscribers.

At issue is the rate in which the hospitals are being reimbursed for the care they provide.

“The three hospitals have been negotiating in good faith with the critical issue being fair and equitable reimbursements in order to provide for the essential healthcare of our communities,” said a release issued this week from the hospitals. “Our hospitals are being reimbursed at a rate that is far below other hospitals on Long Island even though our costs are comparable and employers are paying comparable amounts for health insurance premiums of their employees.”

Southampton Hospital just resolved a similar fight with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield last month, narrowly avoiding a deadline that would have sent their subscribers looking for other hospitals.

“We are optimistic this will work out,” said Mary McElrath-Jones, spokesperson for Oxford/United Health Care.

“What we are offering them is in line with market trends,” said McElrath-Jones.

“We disagree,” said Paul Connor, President and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital who spokesman for the three East End facilities. “Obviously this is where we’re at.”

A specific comparison of rates could not be made, said Connor, since the rates themselves are protected by confidentiality. He did say that his hospital was told by the insurance company that they were paid at a rate below the Long Island average.

If no agreement is reached by the deadline, Oxford and United Health Care subscribers here will be faced with several options. Patients who are currently being treated for a specific condition at Southampton Hospital will continue to be treated and covered by the insurance company. But those who have scheduled a procedure after June 6, may need to make other arrangements as the treatment will not be considered in network. McElrath-Jones said, however, that patients may be entitled to transitional care and should contact the insurance company. In all cases, however, if a patient is admitted as an emergency, he or she will be treated and covered by the insurance company.


Empire Warns Patients They May Have to Look Elsewhere

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With hundreds — if not thousands — of clients along the South Fork, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield is currently negotiating its contract with Southampton Hospital. And while representatives from the hospital and the insurance company are both optimistic about a successful settlement, the company this week notified many of its clients they may have to find another hospital.

In a letter mailed to its subscribers this week, Empire said that the current contract with the hospital expired on March 31. State law and previous negotiations are allowing the contract to continue until the new contract has been successfully negotiated, or until May 31, which is when the extended contract period is slated to end. If that is the case, subscribers would need to receive their non-emergency hospital care at another facility, such as Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, Brookhaven Memorial Hospital or Stony Brook University Hospital.

“We certainly hope that a reasonable agreement on your behalf would be completed before May 31st,” read a portion of the letter. “Based on history, despite occasional news media coverage, actual terminations of hospital contracts rarely occur and have always been resolved within a relatively short period of time when they do terminate.”

In addition to many individuals and private employees, many municipal employees are also affected by the contract. Empire covers the Town of Southampton, and the Village of North Haven. In addition, the Sag Harbor Police Department is expected to go with Empire beginning June 1, and the Town of East Hampton has been debating leaving their current insurance carrier and switching to Empire.

At issue in the negotiations are a number of items, said Lisa Greiner, a spokesperson for Empire, including annual increases to cover hospital operating costs and costs of services.

“We are definitely committed to continuing our relationship with Southampton Hospital,” said Greiner, who added they are negotiating vigorously for the benefit of their customers.

Officials at Southampton Hospital are also optimistic that negotiations will be completed successfully, and spokesperson Marsha Kenny said that it was “business as usual.”

“They have been in discussions for some time,” she said. “I urge people not to get nervous. They are still covered, not to worry.”

“We are confident that we will come to a new contract,” said Kenny.

At present, despite the fact the original contract is expired, the full force of that contract will remain through May 31, or until a new contract is settled.

After that time, if there is no new contract, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield customers may have to make some adjustments.

Under all scenarios, emergency coverage will be included at Southampton Hospital — or any hospital — for Empire customers. And if a patient is admitted under emergency status, he or she will be covered for their stay.

And if an Empire patient in Southampton Hospital prior to June 1 is still there after that date, transitional care will be provided for an additional 30 days, ending on June 30, providing the hospital agrees to provide care under the same terms as the recent contract.

After June 1, however, a patient seeking an elective procedure would need to go to another hospital if they expect to be covered in the Empire plan.

“You will no longer be in the network if it’s not an emergency,” said Karl Washwick, whose agency handles Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Another issue would be the primary care or referring physician, who may only have rights at Southampton Hospital. The patient could choose another primary care physician, said Greiner, or if the patient wanted to continue to work with the doctor, he or she could be treated at the hospital, but would not enjoy the network rate.

“If a provider doesn’t have privileges at another hospital, he would get information on how to get credentialed at another facility,” said Greiner.

Despite the threat of severing the relationship, Washwick said he saw the negotiations as mere saber rattling.

“It’s never going to happen,” said Washwick. “Blue Cross is too big, and the fight is always about money.”