June Perby sat by a large window overlooking Reynolds Channel that spans the fourth floor dining room of Long Beach Medical Center’s Komanoff Center for Geriatric & Rehabilitative Medicine.
A number of seniors in wheelchairs lined the corridor, next to a “Welcome Home” banner adorned with balloons.
Perby’s makeup was perfectly applied, her silver hair neatly coiffed and her slender face framed by gold-rimmed eyeglasses. At 92, Perby, who spent the better part of three months at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, was excited to return to Komanoff — and finally get her hair done by the stylist who visits the facility once a week.
“In three months, I couldn’t get my hair done,” Perby said, adding that the line to see the hairdresser stretched down the hall. “It’s good to be back — we’re looking forward to the old routines. We’re all good friends, we get along, and we like being here.”
Perby is among the more than 100 residents who returned to the nursing facility on Jan. 28, and said that she looked forward to playing bingo, knitting and catching up with friends.
According to hospital Chief Executive Officer Douglas Melzer, a day before the storm, on Oct. 28, 180 residents were evacuated to 12 facilities throughout Nassau County.
“Along with the residents, we sent our staff to care for them, we sent supplies, medications, equipment and medical records, all that was necessary to make sure that they were well cared for in the receiving facility as possible until they returned here,” Meltzer said. “Not only is this a milestone for us, it’s working toward reopening the entire campus.”
The 200-bed nursing home did not sustain as much damage as the hospital, which remains closed, though flooding on the first floor caused $1.3 million in damage. Pending approval of the work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Melzer said that the repairs to the first floor should be completed in two to three months. For the time being, the nursing home is operating on the second floor and up as repairs continue.
Life away from ‘home’
According to Melzer, the New York State Department of Health and Nassau County Fire Marshal determined that the facility was safe to reopen.