Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has a new cardiac catheterization laboratory which opened on Sept. 5. The facility brings with it cialcialized care that was previously unavailable to locals, making it easy for patients to get the treatment they need without the hassle of extended travel times. MANJU SHIVACHARAN/STATESMAN FILE

One of the most recent developments to come out of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is the cardiac catheterization laboratory that opened on Sept. 5, making it the first of its kind on Long Island’s East End.

Donated by Audrey and Martin Gruss, a prominent philanthropic East End couple, this facility will provide critically ill heart patients with services that include angioplasty, stenting, intravascular ultrasound and Impella, a treatment designed to improve blood flow in heart failure patients who require care in the lab.

When I arrived at Stony Brook seven years ago, I learned of a report made by The Berger Commission, a state sponsored look at health care in New York,” Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of health sciences and dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said in an email. “The report indicated that the East End of Long Island ought to organize into a network with Stony Brook to lead and coordinate care.”

The laboratory, born out of a merge between Stony Brook Medicine and Southampton Hospital on Aug. 1, gives East End residents access to highly specialized care, something that their towns lacked before, Kaushansky said. “By affiliating with Stony Brook, the people of [the] South Fork now have immediate access to our specialists with seamless transfer of their healthcare data and recommendations.”

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Before the affiliation was finalized, patients had to travel to Stony Brook University Hospital for services. Located up to 70 miles from most communities on the East End, getting to and from the hospital made accessing quality, specialized health care a challenge.

“With the population growth eastward on Long Island, traditionally, these services were only provided at Stony Brook University Hospital itself,” Dr. Travis Bench, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, said in a video detailing the lab’s features.

According to Bench, heart attack patients who were brought to Southampton Hospital before the merge would have been transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital to be treated since they had the technology to do so.

“If someone were to present here with a heart attack they would be required to be transferred back to that facility for their care,” he said. Now equipped with the necessary technology to treat patients in Southampton, doctors are able to minimize the amount of heart damage done without the added steps of having to transport patients to Stony Brook.

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Doctors can now perform percutaneous coronary interventions, or PCIs, which are non-surgical procedures in which physicians insert catheters through the skin to reach affected structures under both emergency and elective cases. Other technologies provided by the new lab are a fluoroscopy arm, or mobile x-ray arm. The arm allows physicians to visualize coronary arteries during the PCI procedure. Also newly introduced, are highly specialized computer capabilities that measure pressure inside the chambers of the heart and lungs.

Kaushansky said he reached out to several East End hospitals – Southampton Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital — to craft the network, per the Commission’s suggestion. He noted that New York State carefully scrutinized its deal with Southampton, a process that took almost five years.

“I guess the deal was mine in inception,” he said. “A lot of the work belonged to our hospital CEO, Reuven Pasternak, and the Southampton Hospital CEO, Bob Chaloner, who is now the chief administrative officer at Southampton.” Bob Chaloner was unavailable for comment.

“The merge with Southampton Hospital is bringing very much needed critical, specialty care to the area,” Marsha Kenny, director of marketing and public affairs at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, said. “Because we are geographically isolated on the East End of Long Island, a lot of the staff at Southampton had to go west to other hospitals – usually Stony Brook – for specialized care. Having this affiliation complete has given people opportunities to get the care they need without going too far from home. There are a number of Stony Brook physicians out in the East End now and it’s a relief for many who don’t have to drive all the way to Stony Brook anymore,” she said.

According to the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital website, before the merge, the two hospitals coordinated to improve patient care through shared resources. These resources were then suited to patients’ individual needs, with the purpose of managing the flow of patients between locations.

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Other expansion efforts made by Stony Brook Southampton Hospital include the Phillips Family Cancer Center, expected to be completed by late 2018. This facility will house the area’s first radiation oncology unit, which would administer chemotherapy and offer diagnostic and support services to cancer patients. Hospital officials also plan to build an emergency care facility in East Hampton once the state approves their application. Once approved, the site will include physician and patient parking, ambulance access and a helipad. 

Correction: A previous version of this article characterized Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s new cardiac catheterization laboratory as the first of its kind on Long Island. The story has been updated to factually characterize the lab as the first of its kind on Long Island’s East End.

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