Demonstrators call for reopening of LBMC

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“We have the Polar Bears next week, thank God we’ve never had problems, but you know what —with this cold weather, there is potential,” Ford said. “We had a major fire on Beech Street the other night and a family was burned out.”

“We have to mobilize,” Ford told the crowd. “We’re all going to mobilize and we’re sending a letter to Governor Cuomo to let him know we’re serious about this. I never thought we would enter into the winter without this emergency room at least, and I think it’s a disgrace and a disservice to all of us. We are going to keep on fighting.”

LBMC 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.

Barbara Bernardino, a co-founder of the Beach to Bay Central Council, called for the immediate reopening of the facility.

“This issue is so fundamental to this barrier island, we cannot understand how a facility to save lives was taken away from us, leaving us extremely vulnerable,” she said.

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