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Medical site with 24/7 emergency service to replace Sandy-ruined hospital in Long Beach

A preliminary drawing of the exterior of the

A preliminary drawing of the exterior of the two-story, 30,000 sq. ft. South Nassau Medical Arts Pavilion at Long Beach. This structure would house the permanent off-campus, hospital-based Emergency Department as well as other medical services that are to be determined based on needs assessment study underway. Photo Credit: South Nassau Communities Hospital

South Nassau Communities Hospital plans to build a two-story, 30,000-square-foot medical arts pavilion on the site of the former Long Beach Medical Center.

The Oceanside hospital, which is formally announcing the plan Wednesday, said it estimated it would spend $20 million to $40 million for the center. It is to include a 24/7 emergency department and an array of other services, which could include family medicine, behavioral health, dialysis and ambulatory surgery. The hospital said it has commissioned a study to determine which services are most needed.

The pavilion will also mean 50 to 75 more medical and technical jobs on the barrier island, South Nassau chief executive Richard Murphy said.

Residents and officials have been seeking an emergency department on the barrier island since the 162-bed Long Beach Medical Center was closed after flooding from superstorm Sandy in October 2012. This past October, South Nassau purchased the bankrupt hospital for $11.8 million, and in January the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would give South Nassau $154 million to redevelop regional health services for Long Beach and the South Shore.

Murphy said the pavilion is "essentially a 'hospital without beds' and will go a long way to addressing the community's medical needs."

"We want to be good stewards here," he said.

Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) called the plans "an important and overdue first step -- but what is inside will be most critical to the health and safety of barrier island residents." That, he said, is why South Nassau should appear at a forum with the state Department of Health in Long Beach on April 13. "South Nassau must hear the community's health concerns in public and provide answers," he said.

Murphy said the hospital would be there.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said the study the hospital has commissioned is critical to determine the medical needs of the barrier island's 38,000 residents.

"The City Council is very much looking forward to reviewing the plans," he said.

Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) praised the proposal, including the added jobs. "This will provide a beginning for a renewed and revitalized medical campus," she said.

The new emergency department will eventually replace the one still scheduled to open July 1. South Nassau opened a temporary urgent care center on the site last July. Last month the hospital announced plans to upgrade the center to an off-campus, hospital-based emergency department by the summer.

The pavilion is to be built on the south side of East Bay Drive on land formerly occupied by houses now abandoned because of Sandy. Murphy said bidding for the demolition of three wings of the former hospital -- central, "founders" and east -- is in the final stages. As for the newer west and main wings, their future is still unclear. The chief executive said one possibility is that business offices could be relocated there.

The pavilion would include a full-service, 16-bay, 911-receiving emergency department and provide a diagnostic imaging suite with CT-scan, MRI and X-ray machines, South Nassau said.

The hospital must first get approval from the state Health Department and other agencies, which could take anywhere from eight to 12 months, Murphy said. Once approved, he said construction would take from 18 to 24 months.

The pavilion, to be designed by Blitch Knevel Architects of New Orleans, will include family and patient waiting areas situated around landscaped courtyards, an energy-friendly "green" roof and lounge spaces in patient care areas that incorporate natural light and exterior views of Reynolds Bay as well as about 250 parking spaces.

The emergency department at the new pavilion is to be staffed by specially trained nurses and physicians and will be able to handle all urgent cases. But all acute strokes, heart attacks and trauma patients will be taken to the appropriate state-designated hospital, as required by the Department of Health.

"Even before the Long Beach Medical Center closed, such cases routinely bypassed the former hospital as per protocol," South Nassau said.


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