Meanwhile, SNCH is looking at establishing a permanent free-standing emergency facility at the LBMC campus. Murphy added, however, that it would take about six months to develop an alternative use plan for the facility — and a year to conduct an assessment of the hospital building. Though $26 million was spent on repairs at the facility — LBMC received $17 million from FEMA for that work — Murphy said that it would take millions more to overhaul or repurpose the hospital.
“It’s a question of what that facility is capable of supporting,” he said. “It would require significant mitigation of some of the environmental issues in that building — the basement’s mechanical issues have to be addressed — and that’s going to be evaluated over the next 12 months.”
It is too early to say how much of the FEMA funds will be used in Long Beach and at the SNCH campus, Murphy said, adding that a spending plan would be subject to a federal audit. Funding would also be used to expand South Nassau’s emergency department, where admissions have increased by approximately 4,000 annually, to 64,000, due to LBMC’s closure.
“Without a budget, it’s been too difficult to say how that’s going to be spent, but our goal would be to invest those dollars to benefit the broader community here,” Murphy said. “Certainly we are going to invest an appropriate amount in [the Long Beach] community based on the health care needs that we identify.”
He said that South Nassau plans to hold a series of public forums with the Health Department to gather public input.
Ray Ellmer, who sits on LBMC’s board of trustees, said that he hopes South Nassau makes a significant investment in Long Beach, including a 24-hour emergency department and other services.
“My feeling is that they plan on using some of the FEMA funds to expand their emergency department in Oceanside,” Ellmer said. “What I’d hate to see is that [the funding] just disappears into the books of South Nassau.”