Long Beach Medical Center may lose E.R.

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Hospital officials confirmed that the facility has been losing millions per year — including $2.5 million in 2011 — but said that most community hospitals are facing similar financial challenges.

LBMC officials said they have hired a consulting firm to help develop a new business model to make the hospital more sustainable, and that it is taking steps to reduce costs. They are discussing plans for a “smaller hospital that is more reflective of the needs of the community,” which could mean a reduction in staff.

“We’re not averse to changing the way Long Beach Medical Center looks — we recognize that we may need to be different,” a spokeswoman said. “We would be smaller than we are now, but we would still have relatively comprehensive services. That would enable the hospital to be financially sustainable.”

SNCH spokesman Damien Becker said that there have been discussions about a merger with LBMC, at the request of the Health Department, since the beginning of the year. “Our goal was to assess the health care needs of the residents of Long Beach island, and to focus on a new health care delivery system that would give the community access to state-of-the-art health care,” Becker said.

LBMC officials confirmed that they have been in talks with SNCH about a possible merger. “A larger entity has better clout in negotiating better prices with vendors, and more wherewithal to make investments,” a spokesman said.

Howard Schwach contributed to this story. Have an opinion on this story? Send Letters to the Editor to arifilato@liherald.com

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