By HOWARD SCHWACH
The fact that Long Beach Medical Center remains closed since it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy late last year has had an impact on a neighboring institution, South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.
“We have seen twice as many patients from the four zip codes that make up Long Beach Island from last year,” Mark Bogen, South Nassau’s chief financial officer, told the Herald this week. “We are seeing about 110 to 120 inpatient admissions from Island Park, Long Beach, Point Lookout and Atlantic Beach and then about 250 additional patients a month that come into our emergency department, but are not admitted.”
Bogen said that the situation was very difficult for a few weeks in November and December of last year, when “patients came to us from all points of the compass.” The hospital coped by reopening some nursing units that had been closed for renovation. Getting staff up to normal operating levels was another problem, but those problems were solved by earlier this year, he added.
“Long Beach Medical Center is an important partner in providing health care to this region,” he said. “While it has not been exceptionally difficult to operate without them, it has meant a growing partnership with the fire departments and with the emergency medical services who transport the patients from those areas to Oceanside.”
In the last few weeks, the State Department of Health has refused to allow Long Beach Medical Center to reopen, urging a merger of sorts between the Long Beach facility and South Nassau.
And, while SNCH officials, including Bogen, declined to discuss specifics of the talks that have been going on between the two facilities since early this year, the state has said that Long Beach might not be allowed to reopen until a deal between the two hospitals if finalized.
If LBMC remains closed, Bogen said, South Nassau will continue to pick up the slack.
“We are determined to provide proper access to appropriate health care to the public,” he said. “It is a difficult situation, but we are working hard to do what’s right for the public despite any agenda on the part of the state.”