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Sunday, April 20, 2014

LBMC merger talks continue
Hospital working with SNCH to come up with an ‘acceptable’ plan to reopen
Herald file photo
Talks between LBMC and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ongoing, part of a "strong" effort to reopen the medical center, officials said.

Long Beach Medical Center officials are continuing talks with South Nassau Communities Hospital to work out a merger in the hopes of reopening the barrier island’s only hospital, which has remained closed since Hurricane Sandy.

After a very public dispute over the summer between the hospital’s Board of Trustees and the State Department of Health over the future of the financially strapped facility, LBMC spokeswoman Sharon Player said that hospital officials are working with SNCH on an “acceptable” plan that will satisfy the state. Player said she could not discuss details of the negotiations or say when an agreement is expected to be reached, citing a non-disclosure agreement with South Nassau.

“We are in negotiations with South Nassau with respect to a merger,” Player said. “There is a non-disclosure agreement and nothing can be discussed as to what plans are being developed. But there is a very strong effort on everyone’s part to bring medical services back into the community, and between Long Beach Medical Center’s and South Nassau Communities Hospital’s leadership and the state, we’re working together to get things accomplished as quickly as possible.”

For the past several months, LBMC administrators and the state Health Department have been embroiled in negotiations over the future of the struggling 162-bed hospital, which has been closed since Sandy caused $56 million in damage. In June, repair work on two wings, including the emergency department, was completed.

But State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah said that the hospital has lost more than $2 million per year since 2008, and has failed to produce a sustainable health care business model and plan that would meet the needs of the Long Beach community.

In a two-page letter to the hospital’s Board of Trustees in June, he called on the facility to declare bankruptcy and merge with South Nassau Communities Hospital unless it can offer a viable financial plan.

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