Sale of Long Beach Medical Center, nursing home OKd by bankruptcy judge

Exterior view of Long Beach Medical Center in Exterior view of Long Beach Medical Center in Long Beach on Jan. 22, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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The sale of Sandy-shuttered Long Beach Medical Center to South Nassau Communities Hospital of Oceanside was approved Monday by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge, clearing the way for its transformation into a 24-hour emergency department and walk-in clinic.

South Nassau also had sought to buy the nursing home affiliated with the Long Beach hospital, but it was outbid last week by a group headed by Michael Melnicke, who owns nursing homes in the Rockaways.

Judge Alan S. Trust approved both sales Monday and said they "generated the best sales value."

The Long Beach medical center and nursing home sold for $29 million. South Nassau had offered $21 million for both facilities during negotiations with the medical center that began last June.

But when the properties were put out to bid under a bankruptcy court order, the hospital sold for $12 million and the nursing home for $17 million last week.

The attorney for the city of Long Beach, which is owed $600,000 in utilities fees and other costs, urged the judge to approve the sale.

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"It is crucial that we have hospital care in the city of Long Beach, especially with the summer months approaching," city Corporation Counsel Corey Klein told the judge, noting that he was the only one of the dozen lawyers in the proceeding who lived in Long Beach.

The financially ailing nursing home, also called the Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitative Medicine, reopened four months after superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012.

The hospital, already in financial trouble, never reopened after the storm.

Attorney Burton Weston, representing the medical facilities, said state regulators made clear they would not allow the hospital to reopen unless it had viable financing.

The state allocated $6.6 million to South Nassau last October toward the construction of an urgent-care facility in Long Beach. The clinic on the medical center site could open as early as this summer and the emergency facility some time later, Weston said after the hearing.

Weston said the new management would offer jobs to workers at the nursing home, but not the executives.

The state Department of Health must approve the nursing home's change of ownership, but the agency does not have to approve the hospital deal because it's not a working facility, Weston said. He said the state attorney general's office would have to approve the hospital land and asset sale.

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