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Four Nassau hospitals to receive $1M apiece from Hempstead Town

Nassau University Medical Center is one of the

Nassau University Medical Center is one of the recipients of funding from Hempstead Town. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Board members voted Tuesday to give $4 million to four hospitals for expenses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The town passed an emergency resolution at its meeting to award $1 million each to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Valley Stream and Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. Hospital officials said funding would go to cover improvements in ICUs and to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE).

The funding is a piece of $133 million in federal funding the Town of Hempstead received as part of the CARES Act for unbudgeted virus-related expenses.

“South Nassau dealt with the most patients of any of our town facilities,” Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said.

The $1 million from Hempstead is earmarked to cover 50 ventilators purchased by South Nassau in the height of the pandemic. Funding will also pay for six new dialysis machines used to treat kidney failure caused by coronavirus.

The hospital, which serves Nassau, Queens and Suffolk counties, has seen 1,200 COVID-19 patients during the pandemic and has already received $75 million in CARES ACT funding to cover lost revenue, the purchase of three refrigerated trailers for morgue overflow, PPE expenses and four outdoor triage tents.

“We faced extraordinary expenses to meet the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, including purchases of more ventilators and truck loads of personal protective equipment,” said Richard J. Murphy, president and chief executive of Mount Sinai South Nassau. “This grant will help us recoup some of those costs." 

Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who was attending her first in-person board meeting since recovering from COVID-19, praised health care workers and said hospitals like NUMC were helping patients with or without insurance.

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“I have gone what many people have gone through,” Goosby said. “It’s a horrible situation when you’re suffering from what I’ve had. I want to make sure people are getting care who cannot travel and getting help through this act.”

NUMC interim-president Anthony Boutin said the hospital has taken in 900 COVID-19 patients, with 600 discharged.

"At the peak, everybody was full. We were going crazy," Boutin said. "Now we're about two-thirds full and people are afraid to come to the ER."

NUMC, which also includes the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility, planned to use the funding to purchase PPE supplies to meet the 90-day inventory. The hospital has exhausted expenses on inflated PPE and testing materials.

“Nassau University Medical Center is the public’s only safety net hospital and dependent on these federal funds to care for our area’s most vulnerable," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. 

Hempstead was the only town in the country to receive federal funding. The town received more than Nassau County, which received $103 million, based on the town’s population of 800,000 people. The town has also awarded $2 million to food banks.

"The health care workers at our four local hospitals have been on the front lines throughout this entire public health emergency, and this funding will hopefully help ease the tremendous burden these facilities have endured to keep us safe,” Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said.

The town has not determined how the remaining $127 million will be spent and have faced calls from state senators and congressional representatives from Long Island to assist villages and Nassau County with COVID-19 operations. The funding cannot be used for lost budget revenue and can be clawed back if misappropriated.

The town also voted Tuesday to hire outside counsel with the Manhattan law firm Seward & Kissel for legal advice on how CARES Act funding should be spent.

Town board members also retained public relations firm ZE Creative Communications to handle the town’s COVID-19 response.Town officials did not say how much the contracts were worth and said federal funding would not pay for the services.

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