Just two weeks after Long Beach Medical Center secured a mobile emergency department and staffed it with the medical center’s emergency room doctors and nurses, the unit was dismantled and replaced with a mobile primary care facility on Wednesday.
Long Beach Medical Center remains closed after it sustained significant flood damage during Hurricane Sandy, and the emergency unit was brought in at the request of the medical center by the Department of Health and Human Services. It was funded through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and Hackensack University Medical Center.
The mobile hospital complex included two 43-foot trailers outfitted with critical care beds and was equipped with monitors, defibrillators, an X-ray unit, a portable field laboratory, a small pharmaceutical cache as well as heated tents for triage, minor treatment and support.
Sharon Player, the hospital’s director of public affairs said that staff had treated between 20 and 30 patients per day. Patients in need of urgent medical care were ultimately transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital and other area facilities.
“Initially with the emergency department, you need something like that to stabilize the patient and get them transferred, but you want a facility that can back up the services,” she said.
Player said that the emergency unit, located in front of the facility, was to be demobilized on Wednesday.
“We’re following the direction of the [New York State] Commissioner of Health, and they feel that following a storm, there is a period where you need such medical services,” she said. “At this point in time, they said that the needs are more primary-care oriented …”
She said that another factor in the state-mandated change was the unit’s inability to receive patients transported by ambulance.
“That certainly affected the number of people we have seen,” Player said.
Resident Steven Kelly expressed concern about the emergency unit’s removal at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“As a patient myself, I’m happy to say I’m still alive because of Long Beach Medical Center,” he said. “Where do I go tomorrow if I grab my chest and say, oh damn, here’s my third heart attack?”