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Strategies in play for reliable medical care


The Shelter Island Town Board is working to ensure there’s no interruption in the availability of physicians here and to secure further coverage, according to Supervisor Gary Gerth.

The supervisor is negotiating with NYU Winthrop to hold them to a contract with the town to provide back up service at Dr. Peter Kelt’s office at least through the end of 2019. NYU Winthrop sent a FedEx notice to Dr. Kelt that it was ending its relationship on August 1, but the agreement is with the town, not Dr. Kelt.

The town learned of the notice when the doctor informed Mr. Gerth.

A second track in Mr. Gerth’s strategy involves Stony Brook University Hospital. Stony Brook has met with town officials and are doing an assessment of the Medical Center Building and needs for the Island.

If they agree to a deal with the town, they would run the entire Medical Center and decide who would staff the offices. Dr. Kelt and Dr. Nathanael Desire, who currently have offices there, have relationships with Stony Brook and would like to stay on Shelter Island.

In addition, Dr. Josh Potter, who is finishing his fourth year of residency and lives on the Island, has expressed interest in helping to staff the Medical Center.

While it ultimately will be a decision made by Stony Brook to green light an agreement with the town, Mr. Gerth said he’s recommending all three doctors be included in the mix.

“I can’t do an end run around them,” Mr. Gerth said.

Several months ago, Dr. Desire outlined a plan for coverage, but its cost had a $1 million price tax and at that level was a “non-starter,” Mr. Gerth said.

Besides negotiating with NYU Winthrop, Mr. Gerth said he’s contacting regulatory agencies to try to enforce the original contract.

“They have literally abandoned Shelter Island,” he said.

If it comes to a lawsuit, the town would be looking for punitive damages, the supervisor said.

“We have a responsibility to do the best for our citizens,” Mr. Gerth said.