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Board hoping for Med Center staffing solution

Following an executive session discussion with Drs. Nathanael and Anthonette Desire Tuesday afternoon, it appears Supervisor Gary Gerth’s effort to bring the Desire practice into the Stony Brook University group’s staffing at the Medical Center has hit an impasse.

While the supervisor said the Desires explained their side and Town Board members expressed their positions, there was no clear meeting of the minds. Mr. Gerth said he needed to speak with Stony Brook officials currently scheduled to take over the front office of the Medical Center on Jan. 1 to find out what’s happening.

During the town’s negotiations with Stony Brook, it appeared that Dr. Nathanael Desire was to be part of the Stony Brook staffing, but somewhere communications broke down.

That’s not how Dr. Anthonette Desire sees it.

“We left off where we were given 30 days notice to get out,” she said in an emailed response to a question about the results of the Tuesday meeting. “We contested it to 90 days but initially requested six months,” Dr. Anthonette Desire said.

“They screwed us over,” she added. Her understanding is that the town intended to ask Stony Brook to delay its entry for six months so Dr. Nathanael Desire could continue his practice for that time.

“It’s all wish and prayer now,” Dr. Anthonette Desire said. “We have no choice but to send out discharge letters to patients as soon as possible.” State law requires such notice so doctors aren’t accused of abandoning patients and can take steps to transfer patient records to other physicians.

“Trying to staff Stony Brook is how they got us and themselves into this position in the first place, and clearly they haven’t learned their lesson,” she said.

What the Desires wanted was to maintain their own independent private practice. But that couldn’t happen once Mr. Gerth had negotiated a deal for Dr. Peter Kelt to take over the space in which Dr. Nathanael Desire has been seeing patients two days a week.

From the start of negotiations with Stony Brook, it was clear the hospital would do its own staffing according to its requirements.

Stony Brook officials let it be known that Dr. Kelt wouldn’t be included in its staffing and Islanders rallied to keep him on the Island where he has seen patients for more than 37 years.

But while Stony Brook expressed satisfaction with Dr. Nathanael Desire’s practice, no agreement was signed between him and the hospital group.

Meanwhile, Stony Brook executed an agreement with Dr. Josh Potter, who lives on the Island, to come aboard at the Medical Center in July 2020 after he completes his residency at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. They also signed a contract with a female doctor who will be practicing on the North Fork eventually, but will be at the Medical Center on the Island until Dr. Potter comes aboard.
Stony Brook has agreed to staff the front office with two doctors and a nurse practitioner and physician assistant.

Stony Brook has been expected to issue a press release before the end of the year announcing its staffing. That statement has yet to be released, although it’s clear that a contract was signed between the town and the hospital group.

This remains a developing story and updates will continue, including during the Christmas week, on the Reporter website as information is received.