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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

South Shore Rising
LBMC officials work to reopen
Hospital to resume services later this month
Photos by Penny Frondelli/Herald
Long Beach Medical Center CEO Doug Melzer expects a mid- to late-April reopening.

The storm-battered Long Beach Medical Center, which was slated to reopen its doors this week, is now eyeing a mid- to late-April opening.

The 162-bed hospital has remained closed as it undergoes repairs, after 10 feet of water damaged the facility’s basement area, which housed not only its electrical, heating and mechanical systems but also its pharmacy, central supply and purchasing departments as well as a family care center.

The facility’s CEO, Doug Melzer, said he is hopeful that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover almost all of the $56 million in damage. Though FEMA typically picks up 75 percent of such costs while the state and hospital would each pay 12.5 percent, Melzer said he is hoping that FEMA kicks in a larger percentage — 90 percent — to help the facility reopen.

“While we anticipate the money from FEMA, it’s not holding the work up,” spokeswoman Sharon Player said.

Player explained that insurance covered some of the costs. LBMC is applying for a federal Social Services grant to help cover some operating costs, she said, and a $10 million to $20 million community development block grant to make some repairs at the 200-bed Komanoff Center and to build an assisted-living facility.

The hospital was recently awarded $200,000 by the Robin Hood Foundation, and received a $250,000 AmeriCares grant to continue primary care services for low-income and uninsured patients and to help offset operating costs for the hospital’s Family Care Center.

Working around the clock

Player said that two of the hospital’s five wings are expected to reopen by the end of April — its west and main pavilions, which include its emergency department. “We are working hard to restore emergency and inpatient services as quickly as possible,” she said.

Those wings, she said, are undergoing mostly cosmetic repairs. A new heating system is being installed on the second floor of the west wing, while the pharmacy and supply room will be located on the third floor as part of the hospital’s mitigation efforts with FEMA.

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