Additionally, the City Council sent a letter on Wednesday to the New York State Department of Health, requesting an update and re-evaluation of the 2006 Berger Report, a sweeping set of recommendations to restructure hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state and reduce excess capacity. The report recommended that LBMC downsize by approximately 55 beds to 145 beds, and reconfigure as a smaller facility focused on emergency and ambulatory services.
“The report is eight years old, and we don’t even know when they actually did the research; health care is a constantly changing entity,” said Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins. “Granted that the Health Department is in control of that and they’re going to dictate what can open here, they need to do an updated survey for what we need for medical services on the barrier island. What’s being proposed now and what’s in the Berger Report don’t necessarily jibe, and without a better study, how do they even know what’s best for the barrier island?”
The 162-bed LBMC closed after 10 feet of water flooded its basement during Hurricane Sandy, causing roughly $100 million in damage. All of the major work to allow two of five wings to reopen, including the emergency department, was completed in June. But state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah blocked the facility from reopening, saying that the financially strapped hospital should function as a free-standing emergency department with urgent-care and primary-care services.
LBMC filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 19, setting the stage for a potential takeover of the facility by SNCH and the opening of a free-standing, 24-hour emergency department later this year.
Still, city officials said that the bankruptcy process is expected to play a large role in determining “how the facility will move forward and what the future will hold for a medical facility at that site,” and the city may experience another summer without an emergency department.
“During the summer season, time is simply of the essence when it comes to saving lives on the beach,” said Chief of Lifeguards Paul Gillespie.