Anyone who’s aging on the East End (as we all are bound to do) has had the experience of having to travel quite some distance to see a specialist for a myriad number of ailments and chronic conditions.
This issue has been felt deeply by the residents of Peconic Landing, the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Greenport, who often have to take the better portion of a day to visit specialists for brief appointments in Riverhead and points west. But this group of seniors wasn’t taking this challenge sitting down.
When Stony Brook Medicine finalized its merger with Eastern Long Island Hospital in 2019, the administrators of both the hospital and the retirement community began working on a plan to bring more medical care directly onto the Peconic Landing campus.
That idea came to fruition with the unveiling of the new, 1,200-square-foot Center for Well-Being on May 18, which was built primarily through donations from the Peconic Landing community and from a grant through New York State through State Senator Anthony Palumbo’s office.
“For several years, we’ve seen specialists leave the North Fork, and for our members that means a half a day trip for a 15-minute appointment,” said Peconic Landing President and CEO Robert Syron at the unveiling of the new Center. “The stars of this show are our members — they put out a call to action. Without the fundraising you did, we would not be standing here today.”
In particular, he highlighted the work of member Betsy McPherson, who was instrumental in the fundraising effort but did not live to see it through to fruition.
“She was extremely generous and that carried us over the finish line,” he said.
The center, with six exam rooms, will initially offer visiting hours with Peconic Landing Medical Director and primary care doctor Nathanael Desire, rheumatologist Christopher Liedke and John Roe, Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. The health care center is planning to add office hours for a cardiologist, neurologist and urologist as well.
“Where we’re located makes it very challenging for doctors to practice independently,” said Paul Connor, CEO of Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. “Our intention is to bring out additional medical subspecialties.”
The center, which would be the first of its kind at a CCRC in New York, will be open both to Peconic Landing residents and to members of the community at large.
“This really puts us on the map. There isn’t another CCRC out there that has this,” said Joanne Barrett, a resident who serves on the retirement community’s Cooperative Board. “We all spend a lot of time going to Riverhead to see doctors. There are people who, frankly, this trip is very difficult for them.”
“The members really got behind the fundraising for this,” said Mr. Syron.
“We have weekly input sessions,” he added of the Cooperative Board. “They speak their minds, so I had tremendous advisors to help me with this strategic initiative. We’re a mission-based organization.
“We’re always happy when we can contribute to the community,” said Ms. Barrett. “We’ve all been very lucky in life and we like to share that. It’s a family here. We’ve been through a lot together.”
“This is indeed an exciting day,” said Dr. Nathanael Desire, Peconic Landing’s Medical Director. “An awful lot of hard work and dedication went into this beautiful new facility. We’ll be providing the best care, which the residents and community deserve.”