The continuing squabble between the financially strapped Long Beach Medical Center and the New York State Department of Health comes at the expense of the safety of barrier island residents.
LBMC has been closed since Hurricane Sandy caused $56 million in damage, and is facing pressure from the Health Department to shutter its acute care services — which would mean no emergency room on the barrier island — and merge with South Nassau Communities Hospital.
All the necessary repairs have been made to allow two wings, including the emergency department, to reopen. But the Health Department says that LBMC is mismanaged and losing millions of dollars per year. Unless it submits a “viable financial plan,” state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said, he will not allow the facility to reopen.
We think this myopic view is putting lives at risk, and we urge Governor Cuomo, Sen. Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg to intervene and find a solution to save the hospital.
If you live in Long Beach, closing LBMC represents a direct threat to your health and safety as well as to every other resident of the barrier island. It is critical that Cuomo, Skelos, Weisenberg and Shah hear from you loudly and clearly. Let them know how important having a hospital in Long Beach is to you.
Already, city officials say that the facility’s closure has strained Fire Department resources: a Long Beach ambulance transporting a patient to Nassau University Medical Center, SNCH or another area facility may not return for 90 minutes or more. And transferring a patient to another hospital may mean a delay of life-saving care.
With only three means of access on or off the barrier island, mechanical problems with bridges can cause lengthy delays. In addition, the community’s population increases from 38,000 to more than 50,000 in the summer months, and with the peak season in full swing, the demand for emergency services increases dramatically. Recently, lifeguards pulled at least 20 distressed swimmers from the water.