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Long Beach won't get new emergency room, hospital officials say

Emergencies will continue to be treated at the existing facility instead of in a new emergency room at the medical pavilion being built to replace Long Beach Medical Center, which flooded during the 2012 storm.

South Nassau Communities Hospital opened a free-standing emergency

South Nassau Communities Hospital opened a free-standing emergency room at the Long Beach hospital, above, in 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Long Beach won't get its planned new emergency room, South Nassau Communities Hospital officials announced, saying emergencies will continue to be treated at the existing facility.

Hospital officials said Friday they have altered building plans for the $40 million medical arts pavilion after costs soared from additional building code requirements.

“We think it’s a better use of funds to leave the emergency department where it was,” Joe Calderone, South Nassau’s vice president of communications, said.

“It’s not a retreat at all. There are more exam rooms and more procedure rooms and more specialists available," he said. "This is a substantial investment in Long Beach.”

South Nassau opened the free-standing emergency room in August 2015, nearly three years after the Long Beach Medical Center was closed during superstorm Sandy.

City residents have demanded the return of a full-service hospital on the barrier island. A lawsuit by a group of residents arguing federal Sandy recovery money should remain in Long Beach was dismissed in January after a judge ruled residents had no claim to how the money awarded to South Nassau was spent.

The existing emergency room will continue to accept ambulances and receive 911 calls, but hospital officials said it will not be moved to the new adjacent medical pavilion that is to include radiology and offer treatment in primary care, pediatrics, OB-GYN, with rotating specialists for cardiology and urology. The new site will not treat dialysis patients, which officials had explored. 

Revised plans will add a total of 18 examination rooms to the new 15,000-square-foot pavilion and add two new procedure rooms. The site will also have an emergency staging area for a medevac helicopter. The existing emergency room will be equipped with a backup power supply.

Officials said the stand-alone emergency room has treated 31,000 patients since it opened, with 90 percent satisfaction rates and 87 percent of patients treated on site. South Nassau has already invested $38 million in Long Beach, Calderone said.

The hospital abandoned plans earlier this year to rebuild one of the two existing structures from the old Long Beach hospital into a two-floor, 25,000-square-foot medical arts pavilion built at about 23 feet above ground level.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded South Nassau $154 million in disaster funds after the Long Beach Medical Center was flooded during Sandy. The hospital declared bankruptcy after the storm and South Nassau purchased it in 2014.

FEMA approved an alternative use plan for South Nassau to spend $40 million in Long Beach and divert the remaining $113 million to fortify its main hospital in Oceanside.

The federal funding for Oceanside will add a four-floor extension to the existing 450-bed hospital with nine new operation suites, a trauma center and 40 new critical-care beds. The new Oceanside emergency room expansion is expected to treat up to 65,000 patients. Plans also call for raising the main hospital’s electrical grid above ground level and harden the site for storm protection of generators, heating and water.

“It’s to everyone’s advantage for Oceanside to be as strong as possible for future storms,” Calderone said.

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