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Friday, November 28, 2014

LBMC’s long road to recovery
Still no opening date for storm-ravaged hospital
By Alexandra Spychalsky
Penny Frondelli/Herald
Long Beach Medical Center, pictured in May with its heating system temporarily outside the building, has yet to set a reopening date.

More than seven months after Hurricane Sandy damaged the Long Beach Medical Center — flooding the basement, destroying equipment and rendering the hospital inoperable — hospital officials have yet to announce an opening date for the facility.

Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Player said that all major work to allow the first two wings to open was completed, but that building code and health inspections stand in the way of an opening.

The 162-bed hospital was flooded with 10 feet of water during Sandy, damaging the 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.

In January, hospital officials told the public that the medical center would reopen in March. After March came and went, officials said they were eyeing a mid-April opening. Since May, the hospital has declined to release a date, and Player said it doesn’t want to mislead Long Beach residents.

“We’ve stopped [predicating opening dates] because we keep hitting small bumps and little obstacles that keep us from hitting the date,” she said. “It’s not just a matter of buying new desks and cabinets. There’s a lot of planning that goes along with that. It’s like putting a Rubik’s cube together.”

Player said that the hospital’s first priority from the beginning was to get the emergency department up and running to fill a crucial need in Long Beach.

Since the storm, patients with medical emergencies have been taken to Nassau University Medical Center, South Nassau Communities Hospital or other area facilities. But many complain that the trip takes too long — officials report up to a 90-minute turnaround time for ambulances — which not only puts patients at risk, but strains the city’s resources, according to city officials.

In May, Player said that the reopening delay was caused by a request from the Nassau County fire marshal to install a new fire suppression system, since 250 feet of piping was submerged in floodwater and damaged. Unfortunately, pumps were scarce and, Player said, the hospital had to wait two weeks just to receive the supplies it

needed.

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