Long Beach residents and officials Tuesday renewed their push to return an emergency room to the barrier island more than two years after the community's hospital was shuttered by superstorm Sandy.
Ambulance service since the October 2012 storm has been diverted to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside or Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Hospital officials have said the round-trip can take as long as an hour.
Lido Beach-Point Lookout Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson said Tuesday that ambulance times from receiving a 911 call to a hospital for cardiac arrest patients in Lido Beach have more than tripled since Long Beach Medical Center closed. Arrival times have increased from seven minutes to more than 22 minutes, he said.
"Some days with beach traffic and drawbridges, it's a horror show," Thompson said in an interview. "For patient care, it's a long time."
Former federal prosecutor Todd Kaminsky, who is running for state Assembly, Long Beach city officials and about two dozen residents gathered at the Long Beach Medical Center site on East Bay Drive Tuesday and called on the state Department of Health and South Nassau hospital officials to improve emergency ambulance services in Long Beach.
The planned $12 million sale of the 162-bed medical center has not been approved by the state attorney general's office, preventing South Nassau from taking over the property.
South Nassau in June opened a $3.9 million urgent care facility next door to the center that is staffed with emergency care doctors but cannot take trauma patients or those transported by ambulance.
In order to open an off-site emergency room, South Nassau must submit an application with the state Health Department. Kaminsky said state officials have told the hospital to wait to apply while the state is drafting regulations on how off-site emergency rooms should operate.
Department of Health officials did not respond to a request for comment.
South Nassau officials said in a statement that the hospital has been "working actively" with community leaders, city and state officials "to meet the need for hospital quality health care services in Long Beach and surrounding South Shore communities."
Last spring, hospital officials estimated the emergency room could reopen by July.
"While many of us thought something had been happening, that an emergency room on our barrier island was in the works, it turns out that very little has happened," Kaminsky said. "That is not acceptable."
Immediately after Sandy, Long Beach was served by two temporary emergency facilities that have not been replaced, Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said.
He said the urgent care center is a start but added that the city would have kept the temporary facilities if officials had known it would take more than two years to replace the emergency room.
"Here we are with our number one priority to our residents still not fulfilled, all these years later," Schnirman said.
"There's no reason we shouldn't see a 911 receiving emergency room established as soon as possible. We're very lucky to make it through summer without a catastrophe."