After more than two months without a response, the Long Beach City Council once again called on the state Department of Health to act swiftly in restoring medical services on the barrier island.
The council wrote yet another letter to Dr. Nirav Shah, the state health commissioner, on Jan. 10, “imploring” him to expedite the approval of an urgent-care center, to be run by South Nassau Communities Hospital, at the Long Beach Medical Center facility. It also asked for a response to the request that the center include a 911-receieving emergency room.
“It is almost 15 months since Superstorm Sandy,” the council said. “The city of Long Beach and our residents have made a remarkable comeback. Yet, we still are not whole. We need a functioning urgent care center built as quickly as possible with a fully functioning 24-hour, 911-receiving emergency department. Each and every resident of the island suffers without a functioning care center situated here in Long Beach.”
The Long Beach Medical Center closed after 10 feet of water flooded its basement during Sandy. The hospital spent months making repairs, and in June, officials said it had all major work done to allow two wings to open, including the emergency department.
However, the state health department refused to allow the facility to reopen, and called for LBMC to merge with another hospital, suggesting South Nassau Communities Hospital as a viable option. Shah cited the hospital’s poor financial management — it had lost more than $2 million per year since 2008— as a major factor in his decision. The hospital, the state and SNCH have been in negotiations for the past seven months.
In October, the state awarded a $6.6 million grant to SNCH to open an urgent-care center at the LBMC facility. It would provide support for staff, clinical services, equipment, supplies and other expenses needed to open and operate the facility, which will have 12 exam rooms and provide treatment for a wide array of medical conditions. But, as it was originally intended, it would not provide emergency services.