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Long Beach hospital reopening beds, emergency department soon

Reconstruction work is underway at Long Beach Medical

Reconstruction work is underway at Long Beach Medical Center, which may reopen by the middle of May. (March 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Long Beach Medical Center hopes to reopen its emergency department and some of its hospital beds within the next few weeks, officials said.

Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Player said Tuesday that many of the repairs to the four-story hospital, badly damaged during superstorm Sandy, have been completed.

The reopening of two of the hospital's five wings, which contain its emergency department, some medical-surgical beds, the lab and radiology department, is pending approval by the state Department of Health and Nassau County's fire marshal, Player said.

She said the reopening has been delayed by unforeseen repairs -- such as the need to replace fire-safety and sprinkler systems damaged by salt water. The hospital is still installing those systems and testing lab equipment, she said.

The reopening will mean some of the 500 hospital workers laid off since the Oct. 29 storm will be able to return to work. Player said officials are trying to figure out how many will be asked to come back.

Having no emergency department on the island of 38,000 residents has meant patients have to be taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside or to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Player said the hospital is "exploring the option" of acquiring a temporary building for services previously housed in the hospital's three other wings, including the medical-surgical outpatient clinic, occupational, physical and speech therapies and a diabetes education center. How soon that will happen is unknown, she said.

"Right now we're concentrating on the emergency department," she said.

Initially the hospital estimated repairs would cost about $56 million. But Player said that estimate has proved too low and that the final cost -- still unclear -- will be "a sizable increase exceeding the preliminary estimate."

About three-quarters of that money will come from insurance or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The state generally pays another 12.5 percent and the hospital the remaining 12.5 percent.

Player said the medical center has received about $1 million in flood insurance and another $1 million in business interruption insurance. So far, FEMA has paid the medical center $65,000 for nursing home repairs. The nursing home, less damaged by Sandy, reopened in February.

Theodore Horishny, a supervising fire marshal for Nassau, said his department would work as quickly as possible to inspect the fire-safety and sprinkler systems once repairs are made and new equipment installed.

"We, for the most part, will try to give them first priority," he said.

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