But in a letter of response to Shah on Monday, LBMC Board Chairman Bernard Kennedy and Vice Chairman James Portnof insisted that it is “counterproductive” to delay FEMA reimbursements. “We are not asking for funds to protect our status quo, we are asking for financial assistance to help us through our restructuring in the wake of a devastating storm,” they wrote. They called on the public to contact their state representatives to request that the hospital’s acute care services be maintained, and said that given the “size and geographic isolation of the community, an acute care hospital with emergency services is both clinically appropriate and financially viable.”
But Shah maintained that that claim has never been substantiated by documents submitted to the Health Department, and that the financially strapped hospital has lost more than $2 million per year since 2008, ranks ninth on the state’s list of financially distressed hospitals and keeps just seven days’ cash on hand.
Additionally, Shah wrote, the state “has serious concerns about patient quality and safety at LBMC,” and patient admissions have steadily declined in recent years.
“What the state has encouraged is for LBMC to merge with South Nassau Communities Hospital, which has expressed an interest in developing a sustainable and effective solution that benefits the Long Beach community,” he wrote. “If LBMC were to file for bankruptcy to erase their liabilities and then merge with SNCH, the newly created entity would have access to Federal Emergency Management Agency funds that would allow for a new integrated health delivery system.”
Shah added that “a coordinated network of healthcare services” would best meet the community’s needs, and include a free-standing emergency department, an ambulatory surgery facility, urgent care and primary care.
“The data does not support the concept of maintaining LBMC as a full-service, acute care hospital,” he wrote.
Trustees fire back