The freestanding emergency room under construction at 400 Pantigo Place in East Hampton could be open by the winter of 2024.
“Today, we are topping the building with a final piece of steel. I think shortly thereafter you’ll begin to see the platform, the sides, the roofing, and all the things that it will take to begin to say ‘hey, this is a real building going up,’ “ Fredric Weinbaum, M.D., Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s chief medical officer and chief operating officer, told the town board Tuesday.
Completing the 23,000-square-foot structure itself is one hurdle. Staffing it will be another, Dr. Weinbaum said, referring to “the difficulty in finding employees who can afford to work and live in East Hampton, securing affordable housing, as well as whatever it will take to get people to make the commute. We’re in the midst of planning for that. We’re working very hard to make that happen.”
He added that having CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging equipment on site will allow their use for ambulatory patients as well for emergencies, “so that people in East Hampton will no longer have to take that long trip in order to get high-quality imaging.”
At the urging of officials including the mayor of East Hampton Village, the chief of the Montauk Fire Department, and the chairman of the East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, the board previously agreed to enter into a 50-year lease agreement with the Southampton Hospital Association, with optional extensions totaling an additional 49 years.
Parts of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital are around 80 years old, and a new facility on the State University’s Stony Brook Southampton campus, farther to the west, is planned. This would put residents of East Hampton’s hamlets even farther from a hospital, adding to the hazards of experiencing a health emergency on the South Fork in the summer, hence the impetus to build an emergency facility within the town.
The $35 million facility, for which New York State is providing a $10 million grant, was built on the former site of East Hampton Little League fields, which have since been replaced by new fields on Stephen Hand’s Path in Wainscott.
Construction of the facility, which began in January, was temporarily halted by an unforeseen obstacle: the discovery of mud while digging to install a pillar that will support the building. “We had done soil borings, but we hadn’t encountered it,” Dr. Weinbaum said. “It was right in a place where one of the borings was to be for our pillar supporting the foundation of the building.”
Remediation was completed in August, he said, and the foundation was poured and steel erected. The structure should see “substantial completion” this fall, followed by “a period of inspections” — its laboratory must be certified by New York State, for example — and “opening in the winter 2024.”
Dr. Weinbaum’s remarks followed those of residents speaking to the board about another matter — a planned roundabout at the well-traveled intersection of Long Lane and Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton — and both the traffic snarls there and the danger to motorists posed by the intersection in its existing state.
“One of the core concerns we have as a hospital organization is being able to deliver the kind of care we want to deliver for the people in East Hampton,” Dr. Weinbaum said. “This project represents an effort to help alleviate a lot of the concerns that people have about what to do when the traffic is intense and an accident occurs.”
“It takes many, many years to have something like this come to fruition,” said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, “and I just wanted to also state that I know a lot of the time was spent raising funds both within the community and outside of the community.” He thanked those who made donations small and large, some of them very large.
The financial support from East Hampton was “superb,” Dr. Weinbaum agreed. “Now, I want to make a quick little pitch: That need continues. Nothing about the pandemic was easy, but the post-pandemic inflation that has occurred, the supply chain issues, all of which have increased our costs, as well as what we said about having to incent people to make a trip out to the east, we are going to need continuous support from the community. I think most of the community knows that and are engaged to a large extent. We can’t thank the community enough for everything that you’ve done to help make it possible for us to provide this service.”
This story has been updated since it was first published to correct the satellite emergency department's anticipated opening date.