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Hospital executive briefs Town Board

The chief administrative officer at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital updated the Town Board and the public Friday on the situation at the town’s Medical Center.

“It should be up and running by May 15,” Robert Chaloner said at an information meeting on the town’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was closed to the public, similar to the other 11 meetings over the past six weeks, but live-streamed over the internet and then broadcast on channel 22.

Mr. Chaloner said that the long-delayed opening of the Center was because it “needed an upgrade” and then was “slowed” by the pandemic.

Dr. Josh Potter, who is completing his residency and lives on Shelter Island, should have office hours by the mid-May date. He’ll be supervised by Dr. Francis Yoo, a family medicine practioner from Westhampton. Mr. Chaloner explained that, until physicians complete their residencies, they must be supervised by another doctor when seeing patients.

Dr. Peter Kelt has office hours at the Medical Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The doctor is seeing his regular patients and some new ones, but is not administering any tests for the virus.

The Medical Center has been closed for months, with new opening dates given, and each failing to come true.

Island resident John Reilly, a physician assistant, is available for house calls, and can be reached at 631-537-1892.

A question emailed from a viewer asked Mr. Chaloner why some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 were transferred from Eastern Long Island Hospital to Southampton. It was necessary, he said, because there are more intensive care units at Southampton and more specially trained nurses and doctors servicing those units.

On the availability of testing at Southampton Hospital for the virus, the administrator said it “is very limited,” but was improving.

A positive note was that the hospital had an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for the staff and was stocked for the upcoming few weeks by a supply chain that was working.

On “contact tracing” — a process of tracing every person an infected person has been in recent contact with — Mr. Chaloner cited difficulties, especially for tracking the epidemic on the East End. The area receives thousands of visitors, especially this time of year, from New York City and elsewhere, and the numbers of people necessary to conduct the tracing are enormous. In addition, there are state and county regulations on revealing a person’s medical condition and history. These laws can be suspended by the state during a pandemic he said, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Police Chief Jim Read, the town’s emergency manager coordinator, reiterated his call for Islanders who have symptoms or have been tested for the coronavirus to contact him at 631-749-0600 or Dr. Frank Adipietro at 631-477-5353. This is so ambulance crews and other first responders will be aware that someone in the residence is infected with the illness.

Another piece of relatively good news, Mr. Chaloner said, was Southampton Hospital had reached “the apex” 10 days ago, with the number of infected patients dropping, and the hospital was now discharging the same number of patients that it was admitting.

There are still no elective surgeries or elective diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopies at the hospital, a policy that will stay though mid-May, Mr. Chaloner said.