U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would release $138 million to South Nassau Communities Hospital following its acquisition of the shuttered Long Beach Medical Center earlier this month.
Schumer said that LBMC was eligible for Hurricane Sandy aid after 10 feet of water flooded its basement, causing more than $100 million in damage. But it was initially unclear whether the federal funds could be transferred to South Nassau after the sale of LBMC’s assets.
“Closing this hospital would have deprived Long Beach residents and its surrounding communities of much-needed emergency and vital medical services,” Schumer said in a statement. “I have long fought for LBMC, now South Nassau, to get every penny it is owed because repairing this hospital would have been next to impossible without this money. This is just the amount we asked for from FEMA and ensures enough funds will be in place to rebuild an essential facility and provide the Long Beach community with vital medical services into the future.”
On May 12, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale of the LBMC to South Nassau, a move that is expected to pave the way for the opening of an urgent care center — possibly this summer — followed by a 24/7 emergency department.
Obtaining FEMA funding was one of the factors in South Nassau’s decision to purchase the facility, attorneys said. Hospital officials said that SNCH must acquire the hospital property in order to build the emergency department.
But Schumer added that bureaucratic red tape was hindering the takeover. In a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate in February, Schumer urged that the funding be approved, and that FEMA must issue a positive “advisory opinion” to allow the funds to be transferred to SNCH. Schumer also called on FEMA to make it clear that only not-for-profit hospitals should be eligible for the funds, to ensure that the facility remains dedicated to providing health care services.
“We look forward to these dollars being spent here in Long Beach to meet our barrier island’s medical needs,” City Council President Scott Mandel said in a statement.