Adelson said that officials would continue to push for a 911-receiving emergency department to make sure “all our services are restored.” She also said that she would like to see the urgent-care center turn into a 24-hour facility in the interim.
The center is funded by a $6.6 million state grant that SNCH received last year. It includes a staff of board-certified emergency physicians and nurses, and has 10 private exam rooms, two procedure rooms and radiological imaging and laboratory suites. Care is provided on a walk-in basis, with no appointments required. The facility cannot accept ambulances, though patients who require emergency care or hospitalization can be transported to South Nassau or the hospital of their choice via on-site ambulance services.
“So, if someone comes and they’re having a heart attack, we will manage it the way we would in an emergency room, and move that patient into the appropriate catheterization suite quickly, and transport them to South Nassau,” said Dr. Joshua Kugler, chairman of South Nassau’s department of emergency medicine and director of emergency services. “If someone, God forbid, comes in and they have been a victim of drowning, or if someone has an acute respiratory issue … we can stabilize them and get them to the next level.”
Kugler said that doctors treated several dozen patients in the first two weeks the facility has been open, from sprains and fractures to lacerations. One child who sustained a head injury in a pool was taken to the center by her family, where doctors determined that she had a concussion, he said.
“We were able to stabilize her … and set the process for her, as opposed to her just going up to the hospital and starting anew,” Kugler said. “The feedback has been fantastic — I already really feel like we’re a part of this community. We’re calling all of our patients and they’re telling us, ‘Thank God you’re here, doctor.’”
Residents call for full-service hospital
The 162-bed LBMC closed after 10 feet of water flooded its basement during Sandy, causing roughly $100 million in damage. Former state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah blocked the cash-strapped facility from reopening, and called for LBMC to merge with another hospital. LBMC and South Nassau had been in negotiations since last summer on an asset-purchase agreement.
After South Nassau acquired LBMC for $11.7 million in May, when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would make available $139 million that it owed Long Beach Medical after Sandy to SNCH. Some of the FEMA funding will be used for programs and services at South Nassau’s Oceanside campus.
Residents who have been advocating for the reopening of a full-service hospital, however, said that while the urgent-center is a good step, neither it nor a freestanding emergency department would operate as a traditional hospital.
“It’s a big doctor’s office,” Jacquetta Odom, president of the Concerned Citizens of North Park, said of the facility. “Some residents think they’re getting full service here. But if you have something major, this is not going to cover it.”
“We’re happy that South Nassau is here,” said Barbara Bernardino, a co-founder of the Beach to Bay Central Council of Civic Associations. “We just need to make sure that the medical emergency needs of the residents on the barrier island are being met. Beach to Bay Central Council wants that FEMA money used in the City of Long Beach totally for its original intent, which is to open a hospital. We need to have a facility that will meet the emergency needs, and this does not meet the emergency needs. The community cannot be complacent and think this is it.”
The cost of rebuilding the hospital, according to South Nassau, is estimated at $220 million. Current plans call for the construction of a freestanding 911 emergency department at the campus, which would be one of the first in New York state, according to South Nassau.
The sale of LBMC’s assets to South Nassau is expected to be finalized sometime this month. South Nassau is required to develop and submit an “alternative use plan” to FEMA for the facility in order to receive any funding, which can take six to 12 months, as South Nassau conducts an assessment of the hospital buildings.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but our commitment is to go down that road, and get the 911-receiving [emergency department],” Murphy said. “For the purposes of this facility, that would satisfy at least the emergency medical needs for the next six months or so. We’d like to finish our evaluation of the main building — that building has had significant damage. Cosmetically, it looks OK, but … there is some very significant damage there.”