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South Nassau completes purchase of bankrupt Long Beach hospital

A section of Long Beach Medical Center on

A section of Long Beach Medical Center on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

South Nassau Communities Hospital, after receiving a formal promise of reimbursements from the federal government, has purchased the bankrupt Long Beach Medical Center, the Oceanside hospital said Friday.

The $11.8 million purchase of the 162-bed Long Beach facility, closed since superstorm Sandy in October 2012, was completed Thursday, South Nassau chief executive Richard Murphy said.

Murphy said his hospital had been waiting for a letter of understanding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- which it received Thursday -- promising up to $176.9 million to South Nassau.

"That was the precondition to the closing," Murphy said. "We need to know that FEMA would be there to support our commitment."

The federal funds allow the hospital to move ahead with plans to open a freestanding emergency department and other outpatient facilities and programs on the barrier island. In May a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale of the financially strapped Long Beach hospital to 435-bed South Nassau.

"Now that we have the funds, that's an exciting place to be," Murphy said. "This is a very unique opportunity."

Murphy said more than 450 former Long Beach hospital employees will be reimbursed for accrued vacation time.

"Over the coming weeks South Nassau will issue individual checks to the former employees in the cumulative amount of $1 million in recognition of the valuable service these individuals had provided," the hospital said in a statement.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman called the purchase deal "another good step forward."

"The City Council is looking forward to working with South Nassau to see that this money is spent here in Long Beach to re-establish 911-receiving emergency capabilities, as well as to rebuild all the medical facilities that our barrier island needs," he said.

Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said he was "appreciative that South Nassau is taking responsibility for paying those employees who weren't paid" by the bankrupt Long Beach facility.

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said he also was "encouraged by these recent developments."

Calls to Long Beach hospital officials were not returned.

The next step is for a project work sheet to be developed. Murphy said an engineer's report due next month will determine whether the former emergency department can be used, or whether the entire Long Beach facility must be razed and a new emergency department built on the hospital grounds or elsewhere on the barrier island.

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