Hospital Picks Pantigo

Satellite would replace Little League fields
The best spot for a Southampton Hospital emergency room satellite is the site of the Pantigo Place, East Hampton, Little League fields, hospital officials believe, but town officials are also still considering a Wainscott site. ­Morgan McGivern

Southampton Hospital officials will submit a final application for an East Hampton satellite emergency room and treatment center to the state by the end of the year, and would like to see it on Pantigo Place, adjacent to the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation medical facility.

A 4.5-acre town-owned property there houses Little League fields, which would be relocated.

“There is a tremendous need for walk-in care or urgent care, and E.R. care,” in East Hampton, Robert Chaloner, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday at a meeting of the East Hampton Town Board.

He and other hospital officials have been working with town officials to pinpoint a location for the new facility, for which the hospital has received a $10 million state grant.

Another potential setting is also being considered: a portion of the 45-acre, town-owned parcel on Stephen Hand’s Path in Wainscott where the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons and a town recreation area are sited.

Both properties were analyzed by the town’s Planning Department with regard to traffic, zoning, the impact on the environment, the new center’s proximity to residential areas, and the distance from the emergency service providers in surrounding fire districts.

The eastern option, at Pantigo Place, rates higher on virtually all scores, although its smaller size is a concern.

Location is key, said Mr. Chaloner, and a likely one needs to be submitted to the state in a final permit application by the end of the year. Construction would not begin for several years, he said.

Discussion regarding a plan to build a new “state-of-the-art community hospital” on the Stony Brook Southampton campus, several miles west of the hospital’s current location, is nearing completion, said Mr. Chaloner. Since its inception, that project has had emergency responders and others concerned about moving the hospital even farther away from East Hampton — a worry that Mr. Chaloner, a resident of Northwest Woods, said he fully understands.

Until fairly recently, New York State did not sanction hospital satellite centers, he told the board. But after the hospital applied a year and a half ago for permission to set one up in East Hampton, the state indicated its support and promised the grant to help with construction.

“So we think we’ve got the means to go out and raise the money to build such a facility,” said Mr. Chaloner.

The cost is estimated at $35 million to $45 million. The hospital president said there had been “some strong indication from lead philanthropists” of donations, and that he feels confident, with many others indicating broad support, that “we can make it work.”

Under the terms of its issuance, the $10 million grant must be used by 2021.

Preliminary plans call for the construction of an approximately 54,000-square-foot building to provide space for an emergency room, treatment rooms, patient beds, and waiting rooms, as well as an imaging center, lab, and offices for primary care doctors and specialists. In a second phase, a 10,000-square-foot addition could be built.

In conjunction with the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, the hospital has been recruiting physicians to relocate to the South Fork, Mr. Chaloner said. A new hospital satellite center will help attract them, he predicted. Housing to accommodate them could be included in the project.

The two urgent care centers in Wainscott and Amagansett, which would be folded into the new facility, are not authorized to serve patients brought by ambulance, said Mr. Chaloner.

The travel distance from surrounding areas to the hospital, which serves patients from Westhampton to Montauk, coupled with traffic and delays, “are a deterrent to health care,” Mr. Chaloner said, and the hospital has been “struggling

. . . to appropriately locate services.”

Emergency medical service providers who respond to calls from Montauk can be tied up for four hours on a round trip to the hospital, he said. “It’s not a problem that’s going away. We clearly know that this is a need that has to be met.”

A hospital analysis of the number of patients coming from East Hampton each year showed a tally of some 17,000, a larger number than expected, Mr. Chaloner said.

With a satellite at Pantigo Place, the estimated average travel time of 58 minutes from Montauk to the current emergency room in Southampton would be reduced to 26 minutes to the new E.R., according to the planning analysis, and the current 33-minute trip from the East Hampton Firehouse would go down to only four minutes to reach a new Pantigo Place site, or nine minutes to get to a facility in Wainscott.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell expressed concern on Tuesday about the smaller size of the Pantigo Place lot. He asked Eric Schantz, a town planner, to take a careful look at how the property might accommodate the new building as well as needed parking. The Little League lot, he said, is presently used for parking on workdays, mainly by workers at the adjacent East Hampton Healthcare Foundation or the office condominium complex across the street.

“None of us want to be in a position of having squeezed this into a shoebox,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Additional space for doctors’ offices would open up in the office condo complex, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby noted, once the town completes its overhaul of Town Hall buildings and moves several departments out of the condos.

“I really want to thank the hospital for [its] vision here,” Mr. Cantwell said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We really, really are very grateful for your vision and your work in trying to meet that need.”