South Nassau Communities Hospital presented the results of a study of the barrier island’s medical needs to more than 100 residents at Lindell Elementary School on Monday, where hospital officials said that using $170 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency and state funds to build a hospital that resident have been calling for would result in the loss of more than $10 million a year.
In 2014, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale of the shuttered Long Beach Medical Center to South Nassau, making South Nassau eligible for FEMA funds the medical center was to receive after Hurricane Sandy forced it to close. Former state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah blocked the cash-strapped facility from reopening after the storm, saying that it had lost more than $2 million per year since 2008, and called for LBMC to merge with another hospital.
But an overwhelming number of speakers at Monday’s public forum, hosted by State Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, County Legislator Denise Ford and the City Council, opposed SNCH’s proposal to use $130 million for an expansion at the hospital’s Oceanside campus while earmarking $40 million for a 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot medical arts pavilion and emergency department on the former LBCM campus. With the discussion at times growing heated, members of the Beach to Bay Central Council of Civic Associations, council members and Ford called on hospital officials to use the FEMA funds in Long Beach.
“Although the proposed medical arts pavilion is a good beginning, and will hopefully restore some of the lost jobs and provide some of the needed services here in Long Beach, it should be viewed only as a start,” Councilwoman Eileen Goggin said. “Without the money, the potential here will be denied, which will affect the growing needs of our community now and in the future.”