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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

LBMC merger talks continue
(Page 2 of 3)
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.

The facility is facing pressure from the Health Department to eliminate its acute-care services, which would leave it without a functioning emergency room or in-patient services. Instead, Shah said that “a coordinated network of healthcare services” would best meet the community’s needs, and include a freestanding emergency department, an ambulatory surgery facility, urgent care and primary care.

But hospital trustees said that a freestanding emergency department is not financially viable, would not be open at all hours or be able to receive ambulances.

Instead, they proposed downsizing LBMC’s beds from 162 to approximately 80 “to provide limited, but needed inpatient services that would help offset the fixed costs connected with operating the emergency room. … Although healthcare economics pressure us to remain closed, the Long Beach geography requires us to reopen.”

Player said that LBMC officials remain open to a merger. She added that a meeting in July between Shah and hospital trustees to work out a compromise was “productive.” A spokesperson for the Health Department was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

“That was a positive meeting and from that meeting we’ve continued serious discussions with South Nassau with respect to the merger,” she said. “Everybody talks continually and everyone is at the table working together. One of the state’s recommendations was to affiliate with another institution and everyone has a vested interest accomplishing what we need to do.”

Residents, city officials and state representatives, however, have expressed frustration that an agreement has yet to be reached. Because ambulances must travel from Long Beach to either SNCH or Nassau University Medical Center, turnaround time for an ambulance can reach 90 minutes, a major complaint among emergency responders, residents and city officials.

In July, thousands of residents signed a petition calling Governor Cuomo to help return a full-service, 911-receiving emergency department to the area. At last week’s City Council meeting, one resident proposed holding a town hall meeting in Long Beach with local leaders, state and hospital officials to keep residents involved in the discussions.

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