(JOHN FEINBERG / THE STATESMAN)
The agreement between Stony Brook University Hospital and Southampton Hospital would bring a medical center to the Southampton campus, which was affected by budget cuts in April 2010. (JOHN FEINBERG / THE STATESMAN)

Stony Brook University Hospital is close to an agreement with Southampton Hospital that will join the two facilities and build a medical center on the university’s Southampton campus.

The Stony Brook Hospital has rapidly expanded throughout recent years, including the current construction of a new Medical and Research Translation building. This agreement presents an opportunity for the university to expand its Southampton campus after budget cuts caused much of the campus to close in April 2010.

According to “Newsday,” Stony Brook’s chief executive Dr. Reuven Pasternak said the complex agreement took a long time, but he hopes it will be ratified in the next few months by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

Stony Brook University Hospital media relations could not be reached for comment on this subject.

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In October 2012, the hospitals signed a non-binding letter of intent stating that Southampton Hospital would join the Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system and operate under the university’s state license.

The medical centers have been affiliated since November 2008.

Dr. Samuel Stanley said in October 2012 that the proposed affiliation would allow the medical centers to provide “more complementary, efficient and effective” care and provide more opportunities for education.

“Southampton Hospital can provide a valuable teaching and research environment for Stony Brook University students, contributing highly trained healthcare professionals to meet the East End’s needs as the population grows and ages,” he said.

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Also in this statement, Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said the possibility of a new facility on the Southampton campus “has the potential to provide a tremendous learning environment for students in the health sciences.”

As part of the letter of intent, the Southampton Hospital will raise an estimated $225 million in funds to compensate the cost to build the medical center.

The new building would replace the current 125-bed hospital located on Meeting House Lane in Southampton.

The building would be similar to the current  medical center, however it would have fewer patient beds as a larger focus would be put on outpatient care and improving services at Southampton’s satellite locations, like Montauk and East Hampton.

Additionally, the facility would feature a modern layout with more single-patient rooms compared to Southampton Hospital’s existing building, which has been in operation since 1909.

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Although Stony Brook is composed of personnel in public unions, employees at Southampton would maintain their private sector status. However, collective bargaining agreements with hospital officials and employees will continue to take place throughout the agreement.

A “due diligence phase” is the next step in this prospective agreement, where financial and legal information will be discussed.

One item that remains unclear is whether the new hospital would accept any of the eight health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act website.

Initially, Stony Brook did not accept any plans under the New York Health Insurance Exchange because of low reimbursement rates.

To this, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. said in a press release, “it is incomprehensible to the public that a state-operated hospital is not accepting any plans that are being offered as part of the state-operated health insurance exchange.”

As of now, Stony Brook accepts one while Southampton accepts seven of the eight state-offered healthcare insurance plans.

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The final agreement between the medical centers will require approval from the Southampton Hospital Board of Trustees and New York State legislators.

In a statement, New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said this merger will stimulate the economy and provide jobs and quality healthcare service.

“My vision for healthcare in our region has always centered on creating a synergy between Stony Brook Medicine and our community hospitals,” LaValle said.

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