It was a homecoming of sorts for doctors, nurses, patients and volunteers.
More than 150 people stood in the parking lot of the South Nassau Communities Hospital Outpatient Dialysis Center on Oceanside Road last Friday morning, a warm, sunny day, waiting for the ribbon to be cut to reopen the facility. It had been closed since Hurricane Sandy swept several feet of water into the 10,000-square-foot building, destroying everything in its path — with the exception of ‘Maui,” the large Hawaiian fish that has swum in a tank in the reception area for years.
“Maui was the only one happy to see the tide come in,” said the hospital’s CEO, Richard J. Murphy. “We’re glad to say that he recovered from his paddling around and is back in his place of honor in the reception area.”
Maui declined to be interviewed, but the fish is not the only one who is happy to be back.
Oceanside resident Jonathan Braff, 50, has been a regular at the outpatient clinic for five years. Braff has had both of his diseased kidneys removed, and he looks to the facility as his lifeline. For the six months that it was out of operation, he went to Lynbrook Dialysis in Bellmore, but he said that the experience just wasn’t the same.
“I really like this place, and it’s much more convenient for me,” Braff said. “This clinic is like a godsend; it’s my lifeline. I really missed it, and I’m glad that it’s back.”
Another patient, Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall, 64, was diagnosed with renal disease in December 2011 and had been going to the clinic for four months before Sandy struck. During the hiatus, he was a patient at the main hospital.
Hall, who was recently re-elected, said that the hospital and the clinic helped him to stay in the race. “Because of the great care I get here, I was able to campaign and then come here and get treated,” he said. “If it weren’t for them, I probably would’ve had to drop out of the race.”
Of the 136 SNCH Outpatient Center patients who were sent to other facilities in Freeport and Bellmore during the hiatus, 118 have returned, according to Murphy.
“This celebration and the renovated center is testimony that we can and will overcome any challenge to our commitment to provide a health care delivery system that offers superior, accessible and convenient services,” Murphy concluded at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where he was joined by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, other local elected officials and clinic staff.