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Officials: Shuttered Long Beach Medical Center be used during coronavirus fight?


Long Beach Medical Center, shuttered since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, is without a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, most windows are broken, and the basement occasionally fills with water.

But the coronavirus pandemic has reached such frightening proportions that the Long Beach school board, community members and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, have requested that the state expanded health facilities on the barrier island, including possibly using part of the closed medical center to care for patients.

On Monday, Joe Calderone, a spokesman for Mount Sinai Nassau South Nassau Medical Center, said the state's Office of General Services contacted the Oceanside facility to ask for details about the Long Beach hospital, such as square footage. Calderone said Mount Sinai responded to the request and has heard nothing further. Mount Sinai purchased the Long Beach Medical Center for about $11 million in a bankruptcy sale.

The state, meanwhile, is setting up patient-care facilities at the College of Old Westbury.

But Tina Posterli, vice president of the Long Beach school district, said the situation is severe enough that the board would like the state to examine the use of part of the closed Long Beach hospital.

"We are in a very precarious position," Posterli said. The Mount Sinai facility is not sufficient for barrier island residents because of the current crises, she said.

"We have a population of about 33,000," Posterli said. "The bridge linking Long Beach with Oceanside gets stuck, we're in terrible trouble."

Kaminsky, a Long Beach Democrat, said over the weekend that Mount Sinai is not adequate for the barrier beach population.

He agreed the Long Beach facility is not at the moment ready for use, but could be with an HVCC system and some other repairs.

"We have to think, that even once this is over, the infection may come back."

Both Kaminsky and the school board wrote to Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner.

Spokesmen for Zucker and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not return calls for comment.

In a letter, Kaminsky and State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller asked that the state "reassess the feasibility and prudence of re-establishing a hospital" at the site of the former Long Beach Medical Center.

They said they have been informed by Mount Sinai "that a relatively minor amount of work is needed to make the hospital functional again."

But local residents have noted that the facility is in poor shape. It has been closed for eight years, and most of its infrastructure has been destroyed. Residents recently reported tons of water had leaked out of the basement, and they feared it was toxic. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, reported it was simply water.