“Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t come running up to the E.R. doors for care,” said Dan Hayes, director of nursing for the emergency room and intensive care at the Long Beach Medical Center, and the author of a petition to reopen the facility. “A week ago, a father ran up carrying his child, who was struck by a car. He had to be rerouted all the way to South Nassau [Communities Hospital].”
For the past month, the LBMC administration and the state Department of Health have been embroiled in negotiations over the future of the struggling 162-bed hospital, which has been closed since Hurricane Sandy caused $56 million in damage. 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.
Last month, repair work on two wings, including the emergency department, was completed. But the Health Department blocked the hospital from reopening, citing financial, service and leadership flaws that have plagued the facility and kept it in the red since 2008.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah said that the hospital is financially unsustainable and should declare bankruptcy and merge with South Nassau Communities Hospital unless it can offer a viable financial plan.
Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Player said that LBMC officials are open to the idea of merging with another area hospital, but refuse to give up emergency services on the barrier island.
On Friday, the hospital board and Health Department representatives will meet in an attempt to work out a compromise, but residents say they want to make sure they are involved in the discussion. Hayes recently created his petition and circulated it around the barrier island, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help return emergency services to the area.
“We understand that there are many factors involved in the decision,” Hayes said. “But we want them to realize that our primary concern is public safety.”