Long Beach Medical Center files for bankruptcy protection

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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Financially strapped Long Beach Medical Center, closed since superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday.

The move was expected, since the hospital has been in talks with South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside about a takeover since June.

The hospitals, in a joint announcement yesterday, said Long Beach will partner with South Nassau, which will acquire the hospital's assets for $21 million and redevelop the campus.

South Nassau officials plan to open a freestanding, 24-hour emergency department that would receive 911 calls later this year in Long Beach. An urgent-care facility could open as soon as May, South Nassau spokesman Damian Becker said.

The bankruptcy filing "was a logical extension of the circumstances stemming from the destruction to the Medical Center caused by superstorm Sandy," Becker said in the joint statement.

The state allocated South Nassau $6.6 million in federal money toward building the urgent-care facility in October.

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Long Beach Medical Center has signed an agreement with South Nassau that allows the Oceanside hospital to acquire the assets of the Long Beach facility and Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitative Medicine, the statement said. That agreement is subject to court approval.

South Nassau "will work on the redevelopment of the LBMC campus so that the residents of Long Beach and surrounding communities have access to high quality healthcare services," the statement said.

The city of Long Beach will have an attorney present at the bankruptcy proceedings, the City Council decided Tuesday night. The council agreed to pay a special counsel $250 per hour to represent the city "in all matters involving the Long Beach Medical Center, including all bankruptcy proceedings," city records state.

The city wants to make sure the emergency department opens soon, City Manager Jack Schnirman said. The hospital also owes the city more than $600,000 in utilities fees and other costs, he said.

"We want to have a seat at the table," Schnirman said.

City Council Vice President Fran Adelson said city leaders hope the bankruptcy filing is a step toward Long Beach having an urgent care facility once again.

"We recognize the immediate need for a functioning hospital and emergency room, and we will not stop fighting until we have what we need," she said in a statement.

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