Long Beach City Council President Scott Mandel called on New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah last week to expedite the opening of an urgent care center at Long Beach Medical Center, followed by the return of a 911-receiving emergency department.
In an Oct. 25 letter to Shah, Mandel — a Democrat running for re-election — said that a year after Hurricane Sandy, the city is still in desperate need of an emergency facility to provide residents appropriate medical care.
LBMC has been shuttered since Sandy; the 162-bed hospital closed after 10 feet of water flooded its basement during Sandy, causing $56 million in damage. All of the major work to allow two wings to open, including the emergency department, was completed in June.
But the state Department of Health blocked the facility from reopening, after Shah said that LBMC, which had lost more than $2 million per year since 2008, had failed to produce a sustainable health care business plan that would meet the needs of the Long Beach community. The state called on the hospital to close its acute care service, declare bankruptcy and merge with SNCH, saying that it should function as a freestanding emergency department with urgent care and primary care services.
LBMC trustees maintain that a freestanding emergency department is not financially viable, would not be open at all hours or be able to receive ambulances. Though merger talks between LBMC and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ongoing, SNCH announced earlier this month that it was awarded a $6.6 million state grant to open an urgent care facility at LBMC.
The facility, to be run by South Nassau, will not include a 911-receiving emergency department, so ambulances will still have go elsewhere — and risk delays on bridges — in emergency situations, a main source of frustration among city officials and residents.