Ambulatory surgery center coming to Port Jeff; doctor calls it ‘win-win-win’

Ambulatory surgery center coming to Port Jeff; doctor calls it ‘win-win-win’

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An ambulatory surgery center in Port Jefferson Station will allow Mather Hospital to open up space for patients in need of extended stays. File photo from Mather Hospital

North Shore residents in need of a surgical procedure will soon have a new, more convenient option that eliminates the need for extended hospital stays, long searches for parking and unnecessary treks through vast buildings.

The New York State Department of Health approved plans for the Port Jefferson Ambulatory Surgery Center to be located on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station at a meeting of the State’s Public Health and Health Planning Council Aug. 4. The project, which is estimated to cost nearly $10.6 million, will establish a freestanding outpatient facility for surgical procedures with six operating rooms. John T. Mather Memorial Hospital will own about a quarter of the center, with 19 individual physicians making up 70 percent of the ownership structure.

Doctors involved in the plans, which go  as far back as five years, are excited for the possibilities the center will bring.

“There’s a massive need because it’s more comfortable for the patients, they’re less expensive to run [than full hospitals] and it’s less expensive for the hospital,” Port Jefferson-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Fracchia said in a phone interview. He called the center a “win-win-win” because of the benefits it will create for patients, insurance companies and Mather Hospital. Sending patients with ailments treatable at another site out of the hospital will also allow Mather more space for those who require a hospital stay.

Fracchia is serving as a treasurer for the project as well.

The Port Jefferson Station center will handle procedures in ophthalmology, orthopedics, pain management, general surgery, neurosurgery and otolaryngology.

“It’s a more comfortable, homey type of facility,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian McGinley said in an interview. McGinley is the president of the Port Jefferson Station project. Both McGinley and Fracchia stressed the improvement the facility will make in convenience and cost savings for patients. McGinley added that the center will be held to the same high standards that are associated with Mather Hospital. He said the centers tend to be cleaner than hospitals with a far lower risk of infections like MRSA.

Pinnacle III, a company based in Colorado that specializes in establishing ambulatory surgery centers nationwide, has assisted in developing more than 40 centers across the United States and will play a role in creating the Port Jefferson Station site. It will be the first Pinnacle III center in New York, and according to Pinnacle III President and CEO Robert Carrera, New York is one of the states with the greatest need for more surgery centers. Lisa Austin, the company’s vice president, estimated that the cost of procedures at surgery centers is about 33 percent less than at traditional hospitals.

Carrera, Austin, Fracchia and McGinley all speculated that ambulatory surgery centers could be a wave of the future in health care, especially in New York.

“Things have changed — you don’t see anyone building new hospitals,” Fracchia said. New York currently has 116 ambulatory surgery centers, though plans for more are popping up in addition to the Port Jefferson Station location.

Fracchia said he anticipates ground being broken on the site within the next week or so, and the goal is for the doors to open by the winter of 2017.