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South Nassau Communities Hospital, Mount Sinai Health Systems officially partner

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Representatives of South Nassau Communities Hospital and the Mount Sinai Health System were set to finalize a partnership at a news conference on Tuesday, after the Herald went to press. The merger will make South Nassau the Long Island flagship hospital in the Mt. Sinai network, which is based in New York City.

The move was designed to bring advanced health care to the South Shore by making South Nassau a part of one of the largest academic health systems in the nation. The two health care providers have set a five-year timeline, after which Mount Sinai is expected to take over South Nassau fully.

“Mount Sinai is a world-class institution with a leading medical school, and this partnership will allow our patients to have access to some of the top physicians and most advanced treatments available,” said South Nassau President and CEO Richard Murphy. “It also will help South Nassau reach the next level in our role as a growing regional medical center.”

As part of the agreement, South Nassau will become the eighth hospital in Mount Sinai’s $8 billion network, which includes seven facilities in the New York metropolitan area, staffed by 6,500 physicians, and the Icahn School of Medicine, a world-renowned center for medical re-search and development.

The agreement is the culmination of more than a year of research. South Nassau administrators met with a half-dozen hospitals and analyzed data after an extensive request- for-proposals process to identify potential medical institutions with which to affiliate. The board of directors unanimously voted to partner with Mount Sinai, and announced its decision in January, after signing a letter of intent in May 2017. Over the past 10 months, the two institutions have worked together on the transition, as the state Department of Health, Department of Education and attorney general approved the partnership.

“Our partnership with Mount Sinai provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to combine their comprehensive network of coordinated primary, acute and specialized health care services, along with an internationally renowned school of medicine, with the health care needs of the communities we serve,” said South Nassau Board of Directors Chairman Joseph Fennessy. “. . . Patients on Long Island should not have to travel to Manhattan for world-class care.”

Mount Sinai provides 40 percent of the institutional health care for residents of Manhattan and is the city’s largest private employer, according to Dr. Arthur Klein, the president of the Mount Sinai Health Network. South Nassau serves about 900,000 residents across the South Shore, and employs roughly 3,500 staff members and 900 physicians. It also offers comprehensive cancer care, interventional cardiology, orthopedics and intensive care, and is the only trauma center in southern Nassau County.

After the merger, South Nassau’s board of directors will be retained and direct the day-to-day operations of the Oceanside campus. There will be cross-representation on the South Nassau and Mount Sinai boards, and Fennessy will serve on the Mount Sinai executive committee. The need for South Nassau’s board may be re-evaluated in five years, according to board Vice Chairman Tony Cancellieri. He added that clinical integration has taken place, as doctors from South Nassau have begun working with physicians from Mount Sinai in different aspects of treatment.

“Our whole goal is that residents of the South Shore of Long Island will no longer have to travel into Manhattan for sophisticated clinical procedures that have normally been done at Mount Sinai or other hospitals in the city,” Cancellieri said, “but they could be done on our campus in Oceanside with doctors coming from Mount Sinai to Oceanside.”

Klein said he did not envision the staff being downsized. He added that a name change was likely for the hospital, which would reflect South Nassau being a part of the Mount Sinai system, while also preserving the legacy that South Nassau has in the community. The name change is still in the planning phase.

According to Klein, many new programs and services will be provided at South Nassau, but they must be approved by the state Department of Health. The long-term plan is to include open-heart surgery, pre- and post-liver transplant services, gastroenterology services and an expanded ambulatory network. Among the other advancements patients could see come to the South Shore are new heart valve replacement techniques, the latest in cancer and pediatric treatment, and cutting-edge neurosurgery and robotics technology. Klein said that patients receive exceptional care at Mount Sinai because of its vast research and academic presence, which account for its ranking as one of the best networks in the nation.

As part of the agreement, Mount Sinai will provide $120 million to help expand South Nassau’s campus and services, which includes plans for a new, four-story southwest addition in Oceanside with an expanded Emergency Department, intensive-care beds and surgical suites. The expansion is part of a $400 million capital program, which is set to add enhancements at South Nassau including a three-story parking structure, and a new central utility plant and electrical emergency facility on the hospital’s main campus in Oceanside and a medical arts pavilion at its Long Beach campus.

“This is a major commitment on the part of Mount Sinai in terms of dollars, in terms of intellectual capital and in terms of executive time and energy,” Klein said, “so we want to make SNCH the pre-eminent tertiary-care hospital on Long Island.”