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Town signs with Stony Brook on Medical Center

JULIE LANE   The town-owned Medical Center.

Shelter Island Town and Stony Brook University Hospital officials have signed a five-year lease agreement that takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, when the Winthrop Hospital agreement with Dr. Peter Kelt ends.

But there’s now a question about Dr. Kelt’s tenure, based on a written statement he released Monday presenting a conflict between expectations town officials have and Dr. Kelt’s plans.

The doctor, who has practiced on the Island for 37 years put out a statement Monday he titled, “Dr. Kelt says NO DEAL.”

Before residents who have rallied to keep Dr. Kelt on the Island protest again, they should know he’s rejecting only one possibility that was put forth by Supervisor Gary Gerth last week.

The rejected option was the possibility that he and Dr. Nathanael Desire might share space, but Dr. Desire is expected to be among those working in the front office for Stony Brook. Dr. Josh Potter, who is completing his residency at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital next spring, is expected to start at the Medical Center in July 2020.

Dr. Potter is a Shelter Island resident with children attending school on the Island and has steadily indicated a wish to stay and be a part of the Stony Brook team. That appears to be a done deal, according to Mr. Gerth.

In January, it’s expected that Dr. Desire will occupy the front office space two days a week with perhaps another Stony Book appointed doctor, and either a nurse practitioner or physician assistant will likely be part of the team there.

Dr. Kelt called on town officials to postpone accepting an offer with Stony Brook until all options are explored.

“If there is no concrete alternative deal to the Stony Brook option inked by Christmas, the town should then sign with Stony Brook and I will retire,” Dr. Kelt said in his statement.

The reasoning behind Stony Brook’s decision about Dr. Kelt is because he’s not board certified and has one year of residency, not the three years now required.

Dr. Kelt said he has signed a letter of intent with a major healthcare provider to continue his practice and even expand it with more providers in his office at the Medical Center.

One option said to still be on the table is with Hudson Medical that operates offices in Greenport and Riverhead and has expressed interest in staffing an office with Dr. Kelt in its mix.

A second option is a relationship with a group of doctors from Lake Success.

But what looked like a third option — that Northwell Health, which operates Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead — would operate an office in which Dr. Kelt would serve — was taken off the table Tuesday. Northwell representatives called Mr. Gerth Tuesday afternoon to say they have changed their mind at getting into the mix.

Still, while Dr. Kelt apparently has serious interest from two suitors, he continues to tell his patients he has no deal and believes the town should not have signed any agreement with Stony Brook until the final week in December and if he still had not solidified a deal with one of the two groups in the mix, he would retire and the town should then sign on with Stony Brook.

With the town losing its agreement with NYU Winthrop on Dec. 31, and the need to have a new group in place by Jan. 1, members of the Town Board backed Mr. Gerth at the Tuesday work session, when he said he has been working for months to try to bring in a strong group and find a way to keep a viable option for Dr. Kelt. He said he has been meeting regularly with Dr. Kelt and believes an agreement will be reached with one of the two remaining groups that have shown strong interest in operating a part of the building with Dr. Kelt in the mix of doctors.

Northwell was one of several groups Mr. Gerth said he reached out to many months ago, but that group, despite several followup efforts, never responded until very recently when representatives stepped forward to say they wanted to run the entire Medical Center and to keep Dr. Kelt in the mix.

By the time that happened, the talks with Stony Brook were nearing conclusion and all the town could offer was the back office where Dr. Desire currently practices.

Stony Brook had originally wanted to run both office spaces in the building and only backed off after the uproar from Dr. Kelt’s patients. Stony Brook’s policies about hiring couldn’t change, but to settle the issue, the hospital group agreed one office for Dr. Kelt ,who made it clear from the outset that he did not want to operate alone, but wished to be part of a group.

Mr. Gerth said Northwell representatives had told him they’re interested in operating the entire Shelter Island Medical Center. But he explained that while he had reached out to Northwell months ago and followed up several times, he  heard nothing and went ahead with the deal with Stony Brook..

Hudson Medical is another group that is interested in operating the back office with Dr. Kelt and there’s a group of physicians from Lake Success who also have expressed a similar interest in the back office and in Dr. Kelt.

Having received approval from the Town Board to sign an agreement with Stony Brook, Mr. Gerth executed the agreement on Nov. 29.

Mr. Gerth said he expects to continue to push forward with Dr. Kelt and the two groups to determine which best meets the needs of the doctor and Island patients.

The supervisor said he believes a deal will be done soon.

Dr. Kelt will need to vacate the front office space by Dec. 17 so some minor work relating to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act can be done to that part of the building.

But Mr. Gerth said he fully expects one of the two remaining groups that want to staff with Dr. Kelt will close a deal and be ready to run the back office by Jan. 1.

This is a developing story and more details will be provided as soon as they are confirmed.

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