Plans for a Long Beach emergency room and medical arts building and an expansion of South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside won one of two approvals needed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is providing most of the funding, officials said Wednesday.
FEMA’s environmental assessment said the work “will have no significant adverse impact on the quality of the human environment in relation to post-disaster conditions.”
This spares the projects from a more-extensive environmental review.
The state health and environmental conservation departments and local zoning boards still must approve the plans before construction could start in August 2018 and finish by December 2019, a South Nassau spokesman said.
FEMA still must approve how South Nassau, which bought Sandy-ravaged Long Beach Medical Center in 2014 after it sought bankruptcy protection, will split the money between the two facilities.
The agency said its “alternate use” provision frees it from having to use its money restoring an original building if that “is not in the best interest of the public.”
South Nassau wants to spend $40 million of the $170 million from FEMA and the state on a medical arts pavilion in Long Beach.
The remaining money would go to improving and expanding the Oceanside hospital, which also serves Long Beach residents.
FEMA spokesman Donald Caetano by email said within four to six weeks his agency and the state expect to have modified the grant to fund both projects.
“We are both currently working to finalize this change,” he said.
“We look forward to fully developing the analysis [of the plans] with FEMA and moving on the development of the project,” Richard Murphy, South Nassau’s chief executive, said by phone.
Last year, South Nassau upgraded its urgent care center in Long Beach to a free-standing emergency room that handles 911 calls and ambulance service.
Its new medical arts pavilion would be built on the former medical center’s property and include a 9,500-square-foot emergency department, facilities for dialysis, lab work, X-rays and radiology and a pharmacy.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Rockville Centre) said he wanted to make sure the barrier island’s residents received adequate medical care.
“What that medical arts pavilion is is very much up in the air — how many floors will there be? How many services? What will be included? What kinds of doctors?” he said.
He added: “There’s no reason why it can’t be robust and attract lots of doctors, and there’s no reason the community can’t have a full-service medical center.”
South Nassau’s plans also must withstand a civil-rights lawsuit filed in July by a citizens group challenging how FEMA was allocating the funding.
The lawsuit argues Long Beach residents, and those in Point Lookout, Lido Beach and Atlantic Beach, need a full hospital.
FEMA, answering public comments, wrote it “understands” the state health department had dismissed restoring the original hospital, as it likely would not obtain needed permits.
The two projects should “provide greater access to medical care than the temporary facilities that are currently present while also not precluding future expansion based on community needs,” the agency said.