Residents Phyllis Libutti, left, Barbara Bernardino and Linda Giles wore red in a show of solidarity on Tuesday.
The City Council sent a letter to South Nassau’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Murphy on Monday, calling for a meeting to discuss the future of the shuttered Long Beach Medical Center and stressing the need to reopen a functioning hospital.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council members and more than 100 residents wore red clothing in a show of solidarity to reopen the facility, which has remained closed since Hurricane Sandy.
Officials and residents said that with the barrier island accessible by three bridges, and tens of thousands of visitors who head to the area in the summer, the community needs an ambulance-receiving emergency facility that operates 24/7.
The council’s letter comes after South Nassau announced that it would begin construction of an urgent care facility this week, and after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would release $138 million to South Nassau following its acquisition of LBMC for $11.7 million last month. FEMA owed the money to LBMC due to Sandy damages, Schumer said.
With South Nassau officials saying that some of that funding will be used to invest in programs and services on its Oceanside campus, the council requested a meeting with Murphy and SNCH’s board of directors and called for the entire FEMA reimbursement to be used to rehabilitate the LBMC facility.
“It is imperative that all of the $138 million provided through FEMA goes directly into the rehabilitation of the future facility,” the council wrote.
The 162-bed LBMC closed after 10 feet of water flooded its basement during Hurricane Sandy. While the Komonaff Center reopened four months after the storm, all of the major work to allow two of five wings at the hospital to reopen, including the emergency department, was completed a year ago. But former state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah blocked the cash-strapped facility from reopening, saying that it had lost more than $2 million per year since 2008.