With the hospital closed, those in need of emergency care are being transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center and other facilities. “We recognize the importance of reopening the hospital as quickly as possible to provide needed health care services to the community,” Melzer said. “And the city tells us that as well, because obviously they have to run the ambulances, and that becomes a challenge to be able to constantly travel outside of the community. We’re told it takes about a 90-minute turnaround time … depending where you are on the island. It’s a challenge for the EMS system in Long Beach.”
Fire Chief Rich Corbett said that the hospital’s closure has strained the department’s resources, since ambulances are traveling farther north to reach other hospitals. “We’re looking forward to Long Beach Medical Center reopening,” Corbett said. “It will definitely help our turnaround time and free up our resources a lot quicker — we have a great working relationship with the E.R. staff there, and we want everyone to get back to work as well.”
Mark Bogen, SNCH’s chief financial officer, said that there has been a significant leap in emergency room visits there. The hospital was averaging about 200 visits per month prior to the storm, and is now seeing more than 400. But Bogen said that there have not been any patient deaths resulting from longer turnaround times.
“From the day that Long Beach Medical Center officially closed … volume has been up here at South Nassau,” he said. “We were probably averaging about 110 inpatient admissions, and since November we’ve been averaging double that.”
The medical center is one of the largest employers of Long Beach residents, and was forced to lay off 700 of its 1,200 workers after the storm. In December, the New York State Department of Labor released its November unemployment figures, and the jobless rate in Long Beach jumped from 7.7 percent in October to 10.1 percent in November. A year ago, the rate was 6.6 percent, and hospital officials attributed the spike in part to its layoffs.