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Transformation: Driving the Future of Healthcare

Medical and Research Translation (MART) building in 2019.

Medical and Research Translation (MART) building in 2019.

Forty years ago, a new university hospital slowly arose among dense woodlands along the bucolic North Shore of Long Island. What began then as a fledgling hospital is now the vibrant hub of an innovative medical enterprise serving patients from Manhattan to Montauk.

Stony Brook Medicine has grown to encompass four hospitals, a new medical research facility and cancer center, a large multispecialty practice in Commack, New York, and a burgeoning relationship with Mount Sinai for research collaboration, academic programs and clinical care initiatives. The 818-bed hospital system now includes Stony Brook University Hospital, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital.

With a major teaching hospital at its core, linked with two community-based hospitals on Eastern Long Island, the system works together to match patients with the right type of care in the right facility. As more and more physician practices join the Stony Brook Medicine physician network, the system has grown to more than 100 outpatient care sites across Suffolk County. The result is a truly integrated healthcare delivery system that’s firmly focused on meeting the healthcare needs of its patients.

Strengthening the System

Stony Brook University Hospital opened its doors and admitted its first patients on February 18, 1980. But it was not until 2006 that the hub-and-spoke vision for Long Island healthcare was articulated by the Berger Commission, an independent nonpartisan group appointed by the New York State governor and legislature to serve as a “Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century.”

The East End hospitals should “be joined in a single unified governance structure with full authority to develop a strategic plan which restructures the hospitals to ensure access to services, rationalize bed capacity, minimize duplication of services, create management efficiencies and develop an integrated healthcare delivery system for the North and South Forks, Riverhead and the communities immediately to the west,” the Commission wrote.

“The Brookhaven Hospital should continue joint planning with these hospitals and explore joining the new entity,” the Commission said in its report. “University Hospital at Stony Brook should be given operational freedom to affiliate with other hospitals and create a regional healthcare delivery system.”

Called “A Plan to Stabilize and Strengthen New York’s Health Care System,” the report received ardent support from New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who became its fiercest advocate.

“New York State was prescient in foreseeing the need for an integrated regional healthcare delivery system for Suffolk County and beyond,” said Michael A. Bernstein, interim president of Stony Brook University, who serves as the governing body for the medical enterprise. “Patients are the real beneficiaries of these efforts because we can coordinate care across hospitals through the integration of information technology platforms and telehealth connectivity. Our teams are sharing medical expertise and collaborating across medical disciplines.”

An aerial drone image of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital in Southampton, New York.

An aerial drone image of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital in Southampton, New York.

Southampton Hospital Joins First

The state’s vision started to become a reality when Southampton Hospital became the first to join Stony Brook Medicine in 2017.

“Bringing these two institutions together has provided the opportunity to train our providers in a community-based setting — in the ‘real world’ outside of academia,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, senior vice president of health sciences and dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

“Eighty to 90 percent of our medical graduates, and nearly 100 percent of our graduating nurses and nurse practitioners, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and healthcare social workers, end up practicing in a community setting,” he said. “Southampton provides the ideal location as a quality healthcare institution to gain vital experience and relevant training.”

The relationship also offers opportunities to expand clinical services on the South Fork. Working in partnership with Stony Brook, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital opened a new Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (Cath Lab) in 2017, followed by a new Electrophysiology Lab in 2018, improving access to the medical experts at Stony Brook University Heart Institute for residents of the South Fork. The Cath Lab made Southampton the first facility on the East End of Long Island capable of providing clinically complex care to critically ill heart patients.

The following year, The Phillips Family Cancer Center opened in Southampton. Conveniently located on County Road 39, the center provides the only linear accelerator on the East End of Long Island, with chemotherapy treatments formulated in an on-site laboratory and surgical treatment services available at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. The center also offers direct access to clinical trials provided through the Stony Brook University Cancer Center for the latest innovations in cancer treatment.

“With seamless access to Stony Brook University Cancer Center, The Phillips Family Cancer Center is changing cancer care on the East End by providing comprehensive and advanced cancer care right here in Southampton,” said Robert Chaloner, chief administrative officer for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.

Eastern Long Island Hospital Joins Next

In July 2019, Eastern Long Island Hospital joined Stony Brook Medicine to further improve healthcare access and quality for East End residents. Now both East End hospitals are serving as clinical campuses and training sites for Stony Brook Medicine, which will help increase the number of physicians, specialists, allied health professionals and nurses across Eastern Long Island.

Already the relationship is paying dividends. Through Stony Brook Medicine, the newly named Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital (SBELIH) is offering new surgical fellowship and psychiatric residency programs. A telehealth neurology program gives residents of the North Fork and Shelter Island direct access to Stony Brook Medicine specialists.

Working with Stony Brook University Hospital, SBELIH already provides the region’s leading behavioral health programs on Long Island. The two hospitals have also partnered to improve emergency care on the North Fork, with two first responder “fly cars” staffed by paramedics, for the highest possible level of prehospital emergency care.

“Bringing together the best of academic and community medicine to continue the 114 year mission of the now Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital, along with creating new healthcare options to keep healthcare local, are the overarching tenets of this union,” said Paul J. Connor III, chief administrative officer at SBELIH.

The hospitals in the Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system will work to address additional healthcare gaps for East End residents in areas such as neurology, gynecology, pulmonology, hematology/oncology and orthopedic services. Together, these partners are fulfilling the long-range vision for Long Island healthcare articulated by the Berger Commission 13 years ago.

A New Children’s Hospital and Cancer Center

On the main Stony Brook campus, the system is also growing. In 2019, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital opened its doors, along with the Medical and Research Translation building, home of the new Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital, Stony Brook Children’s offers the most advanced pediatric specialty care in the region, with nationally recognized physicians dedicated to children’s medicine.

The 104-bed hospital provides cutting-edge research, child-sized technological innovations, clinical trials and breakthrough techniques to benefit patients. With over 180 specialists in more than 30 pediatric specialties, Stony Brook Children’s handles nearly any type of medical condition affecting kids.

“Our new hospital was designed for children and their families and allows us to combine the latest technology with a child-first, family-centered philosophy,” said Margaret M. McGovern, MD, Knapp Chair of Pediatrics, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, and physician-in-chief at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “It is the only children’s hospital on Long Island with all single-patient rooms, which have been shown to enhance infection control, foster a sense of control over the physical environment, facilitate family involvement and provide privacy.”

Patti Zirpoli, RN (left), and Aaron Sasson, MD, Chief of the Surgical Oncology Division at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

Patti Zirpoli, RN (left), and Aaron Sasson, MD, Chief of the Surgical Oncology Division at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

The Phillips Family Cancer Center, newly opened, delivers advanced, comprehensive cancer treatments to patients on the East End.

The Phillips Family Cancer Center, newly opened, delivers advanced, comprehensive cancer treatments to patients on the East End.

Next door, at the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, researchers and clinicians are joining forces to build the most comprehensive, integrated and unified team with one singular purpose: to investigate, discover and drive innovations in cancer treatment.

The Cancer Center delivers revolutionary breakthroughs, medical discoveries and lifesaving treatments for patients with cancer. With expanded state-of-the-art space for patients and their families, the new facility offers access to Stony Brook’s cancer experts in one convenient location, with space that respects the special needs of cancer patients and their families.

The modern facility offers a collaborative environment for Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine’s renowned experts in applied mathematics, engineering sciences, computational biology, imaging, metabolism, chemistry, biology, informatics, genomics and computer sciences to propel cancer research and create breakthrough treatments in cancer care. Leading-edge technology will create revolutionary ways to observe, diagnose and improve treatment. A cyclotron particle accelerator will be used with PET imaging to enable cancer researchers to more precisely target tumors. Bioinformatics will broaden discoveries in cancer biology, enabling comprehensive analysis and sequencing of genomic and proteomic data.

“We have a comprehensive cancer center that conducts cutting-edge research to understand cancer and then design approaches to predict, diagnose and defeat it based on discoveries that are conducted by our researchers and investigators,” said Yusuf A. Hannun, MD, vice dean for cancer medicine, Joel Strum Kenny Professor in Cancer Research and director of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. “The broad scope of activities that we conduct is only possible in the setting of an academic medical center.”

A Growing Network of Providers

The Stony Brook Medicine healthcare system encompasses more than just new buildings and hospitals, however. It now includes more than 1,200 physicians on the full-time faculty in the Renaissance School of Medicine, plus an additional 100 employed physicians in the community. Stony Brook Medicine’s ambulatory footprint comprises more than 100 outpatient care sites throughout Suffolk County, strategically located to enhance convenient access to healthcare.

“Stony Brook Medicine is working collaboratively with our physician and hospital partners to meet the needs of our patients across Long Island,” said McGovern. “These relationships will allow us to work together even more closely to coordinate care and improve access to medical-surgical services. They also improve access to the highest levels of specialty care that Stony Brook provides as Long Island’s premier teaching hospital for both children and adults.”

The crown jewel of the ambulatory network, Advanced Specialty Care, opened in Commack in 2017, bringing the power of Stony Brook Medicine closer to patients in western Suffolk County and eastern Nassau County. With primary care and more than 30 specialties and subspecialties, Advanced Specialty Care offers convenience for the entire family’s medical care, backed by the clinical expertise of Long Island’s premier teaching hospital, just 20 minutes away.

Mount Sinai Affiliation

Formalizing these hospital and physician relationships broadens access to the latest in medical research, clinical trials and cutting-edge medicine at Stony Brook Medicine. They also offer access to more medical expertise through Stony Brook’s affiliation with the Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan.

This growing network of relationships creates a more integrated, holistic way to view and treat our patients across the entire medical enterprise. In the process, we are truly transforming healthcare from Manhattan to Montauk and well beyond.

Announced in 2015, the Mount Sinai partnership combines the complementary expertise of two outstanding medical schools, creating boundless possibilities to promote discovery, enrich academic medicine and enhance clinical care through large-scale research and clinical collaborations.

Stony Brook and Mount Sinai are collaborating to develop a wide range of research programs in fields such as biomedical engineering and computer science; drug discovery and medicinal chemistry sciences; neuroscience; neurology and psychiatry; basic biology and novel therapeutics; and public health and health systems. The alliance capitalizes on Stony Brook University’s expertise in mathematics, high-performance computing, imaging and the physical and chemical sciences, and on Mount Sinai’s strengths in biomedical and clinical research and health policy and outcomes.

“Collaborations occur routinely across disciplines at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine, which is key to developing innovative technology, lifesaving treatments and cures to benefit our patients,” said President Bernstein. “Our growing relationship with Mount Sinai provides additional opportunities for research collaboration, academic programs and clinical care initiatives, transforming healthcare across Long Island and beyond.”

“We will bring together researchers and clinicians from both institutions to provide the best clinical practices to patients across our entire Long Island network,” said Kaushansky. “In short, we can make healthcare better for the residents of the East End, and train the next generation of healthcare providers to lead the revolution, and evolution, of modern medicine.”

This bold new vision for Stony Brook Medicine is decades removed from the day when Stony Brook University Hospital first opened its doors on an isolated tract of land along the secluded North Shore. Now Long Island’s premier teaching hospital — which has been designated as one of “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” by Healthgrades, the first organization in the nation to grade hospitals entirely on clinical outcomes — stands at the hub of a four-hospital system, aligned with another major academic center to create new synergies, all while keeping patients as the core focus.

“This growing network of relationships creates a more integrated, holistic way to view and treat our patients across the entire medical enterprise,” said Kaushansky. “In the process, we are truly transforming healthcare from Manhattan to Montauk and well beyond.”