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Long Beach emergency center set for round-the-clock service starting Monday

The South Nassau Urgent Care Center at Long

The South Nassau Urgent Care Center at Long Beach was slated to open with a newly renovated $8 million emergency department on July 1, 2015, but was stalled pending federal and state approvals. The building is shown here on June 30, 2015. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The free-standing emergency department at Long Beach will be open for round-the-clock business at 9 a.m. Monday.

South Nassau Communities Hospital said Thursday that it had received written confirmation late Wednesday from the state Department of Health that its laboratory had been approved.

This weekend the facility will continue to operate as an urgent care center, with limited hours, while the hospital increases its staffing for 24/7 coverage beginning Monday.

Richard J. Murphy, chief executive of South Nassau, said the upgraded facility "will offer residents and visitors to the barrier island convenient and high quality emergency medical care."

Waiting for lab approval from the state was one of two issues that delayed the opening of the 6,300-square-foot emergency department, which was completed July 1. The other snag was a federal requirement for a higher-grade backup electrical system. On July 23, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave the Oceanside hospital a one-year, renewable waiver for the backup electrical system.

Following state protocol, all acute stroke, heart attack and trauma patients transported by the 911 emergency medical system will bypass the Long Beach emergency department and be taken to a state-designated hospital, South Nassau said.

Dr. Josh Kugler, chairman of South Nassau's Emergency Medicine Department, said this was the requirement when Long Beach Medical Center was open because it was not a designated stroke, heart or trauma center, which provides timely, lifesaving, specialized care. Patients stabilized at the Long Beach emergency department who require more treatment will be transferred to South Nassau.

Long Beach residents have been without an emergency department since superstorm Sandy flooded Long Beach Medical Center in October 2012. Two years later, South Nassau purchased the bankrupt hospital for $11.8 million. That was several months after it opened a $5 million urgent care center at 325 East Bay Dr. The current upgrade to a free-standing emergency department on the same site cost an additional $8 million.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed the opening. "Though it took some work to both diagnose and then treat some of the complications that risked delaying this essential need in the community, today's news represents a clean bill of health for an emergency center that will save lives and serve its neighbors," he said.

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), whose District 9 includes Long Beach, said he was "thrilled."

The first off-campus, hospital-based emergency department on Long Island, the new facility has six private treatment rooms, including an observation unit with three beds where patients can be held for up to 23 hours, a special room for infectious disease cases, a lab, a triage area, a behavioral treatment area, a decontamination room and a trauma room. It also has an X-ray machine and the only operational 64-slice CT scanner on the barrier island.

Kugler said eight or nine people should be there Monday, including an emergency doctor, one or two emergency nurses, a patient care technician, a radiology technician, a lab technician, a social worker, a pharmacist and a registrar.

"This is a new moment for us -- and a very exciting moment -- to be able to deliver this level of care," he said.

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