South Nassau to discuss new plans for Long Beach medical facility

Hospital to hold public information session at the Long Beach Public Library

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South Nassau Communities Hospital will hold a public information session on Dec. 12 to update residents about its revised plans for the former Long Beach Medical Center property.

The session, at which officials are expected to discuss the updated plans for the site, will take place between 2 to 4 p.m. at the Long Beach Public Library.

“We wanted to get input from the public and we hope that they’ll join us,” said Joe Calderone, SNCH’s senior vice president of corporate communications and development.

The session comes after South Nassau announced last month that plans to construct a medical pavilion with a new emergency room on the former Long Beach Medical Center property had changed.

Officials said South Nassau is still moving forward with the construction of a medical pavilion, albeit in a different location on the property. The freestanding emergency department built in 2015 — initially intended to be a temporary facility — would continue to operate 24 hours a day, they explained, and accept ambulances.

And though it would no longer house an emergency department, hospital officials said that the pavilion would still provide the services proposed in the original plan, including OB/GYN, medical oncology and other specialties.

South Nassau held a series of similar public engagement meetings after it acquired LBMC in 2014 following a bankruptcy proceeding. “We obviously had these sessions before and I believe this is our third round,” Calderone said. “We want to have an opportunity to continue the dialogue and give feedback.”

About 100 residents attended South Nassau’s “Information day” at the Long Beach Hotel in 2015, where they provided input and heard from hospital representatives about plans for an emergency department, to be housed in a medical arts pavilion, that would operate 24/7 and accept ambulances.

At that forum, residents were able to view several exhibits featuring designs and renderings, and speak directly with South Nassau representatives and experts.

Calderone said that the format of the Dec. 12 meeting would be similar to past sessions, where residents will be able to meet with officials individually. He added that additional sessions would be held as well. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council President Anthony Eramo said that he and other council members met with South Nassau officials last week and urged them to hold public meetings ­— including evening hours — to update residents about the status of the project.

“We look forward to [the Dec. 12 meeting] to learn about their new plans and listen to residents’ thoughts and concerns,” Eramo said.

A number of residents criticized the hospital for not following through on its original plan, and asked the council why hospital representatives were not present on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Anissa Moore said that hospital officials were invited to attend. “It’s unfortunate that they’re not here this evening,” Moore said.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Melissa Miller said they were disappointed that representatives from South Nassau did not attend.

“[South Nassau] promised from the beginning that they would always listen and be a partner,” Kaminsky said. “I think it would have been very helpful … for them to have been here to defend the adequacy of the services they believe that they’re providing, and that would have been a helpful discussion.”

Hospital officials, however, said they were not invited to give a presentation about the updated plans at Tuesday’s meeting, and that they agreed with the city to hold the public information session next week.

“Originally, we were going to do it in January, with more sessions in the new year,” Calderone said. “This isn’t the end of the conversation.”

Hospital officials said they intend to file formal plans for the project with the city this month. Calderone said that the city would then launch an environmental review process, and city officials said that the pavilion would ultimately require approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Converting the freestanding emergency department into a permanent facility, meanwhile, would require state Health Department approval, hospital officials said.

“We have had an opportunity to brief some members of the council on the changes and that’s part of the outreach,” Calderone said. “I think they were appreciative of the opportunity to get a briefing.”