Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's mailer about the crisis at...

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's mailer about the crisis at Nassau University Medical Center.

Daily Point

A NUMC salvo in the Blakeman-Hochul battle

Nassau County sent out a mailer this week to residents with a message about the Nassau University Medical Center.

But it wasn’t a promise by the county to fund it, or a pledge to rid it of patronage.

“Tell Governor Hochul: Keep NUMC Open! Sign our petition!” the mailer’s headline demanded. It’s a continuation of Republican County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s public jabs at Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The mailer was sent countywide, which includes about 350,000 homes, according to a county legislative official, who estimated that the postage alone for a postcard mailer like the NUMC one costs more than $80,000. The mailer, which included a photo and quote from Blakeman, featured a chart portraying a decline in state aid from 2017 to 2023, suggesting that aid had fallen from $188.4 million in 2017 to $88.1 million in 2021 to $66.8 million last year.

“Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) is in jeopardy of closing its doors in East Meadow because of state funding cuts by the Governor and her allies in the State Legislature,” the mailer said.

There was no source listed for that information. State budget officials have said that while some funding dried up over time as temporary programs expired, state funding has actually risen over the last few years, from $101.2 million in 2021 when Blakeman was first elected to $164.9 million last year.

“While the Governor is cutting funding for Long Island hospitals and schools, her budget includes 2.4 billion for illegal immigrants,” the mailer said “It’s insanity! Sign the petition today to keep NUMC open and properly funded.”

It’s unknown how much the county spent in taxpayer dollars on the mailer, and it’s unclear how a mailer criticizing Hochul would encourage the state to fund the hospital. Blakeman spokesman Chris Boyle did not return multiple requests for comment. The petition is housed on Nassau County’s website.

But some state and local officials criticized Blakeman’s strategy.

“It would be better if taxpayer dollars were spent helping the hospital, rather than helping yourself,” said Richard Kessel, the chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s financial control board, which has been sounding the alarm on NUMC’s dire finances.

Hochul spokesman Gordon Tepper told The Point in a statement that NUMC’s leadership “has clearly mismanaged the hospital, jeopardizing the health and well-being of the community.”

“It is essential that any proposed plan not only addresses immediate financial woes but also establishes a sustainable path forward for the hospital,” Tepper said in the statement.

And Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton lashed out at Blakeman, calling for an investigation into “the mess at NUMC” and into “these trash mailers.”

“It seems County Executive Blakeman has mistaken the county’s budget for his personal propaganda fund,” DeRiggi-Whitton said in a statement.

The mailer marks the latest move in an ongoing battle between the county, NUMC and the state, as NUMC’s financial situation grows more dire. NUMC also has issued appeals to its employees, patients and others, even including an option on its website to “Tell Albany to Stop Defunding NUMC,” which leads to a form email that website visitors can send that’s addressed to the secretary to the governor Karen Persichilli Keogh, State Sens. Kevin Thomas and Steve Rhoads, and  Assembs. Taylor Darling and John Mikulin.

A consultant for NIFA has suggested the hospital could run out of money by the end of this month. NUMC has asked the state for as much as $125 million in aid, but state officials have told NUMC they would help fund the hospital only if the hospital commits to a series of steps to improve management and governance. NUMC has responded in two different letters, but neither made a full, clear commitment to comply with all of the state’s requests. Tepper said the Department of Health “is reviewing NUMC’s response” and the Governor’s office is waiting for “the results of their determination.”

— Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

A Swift favor?

Credit: McCoy

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Final Point

‘Water they doing here?’

On Monday, spectators gathered to watch the total solar eclipse from the Frontier Town Gateway event space in the small upstate town of North Hudson.

At the site, an odd man-made sight came into view — one you didn’t need special glasses to stare at — a company vehicle adorned with the name of its owner: The Suffolk County Water Authority, based more than 300 miles away. A one-time Long Islander spied the car and wondered what was going on.

So The Point contacted the authority for an explanation on Wednesday. Jeffrey W. Szabo, the SCWA’s chief executive officer, responded right away.

The authority, he said, had sent a small group of staffers to a three-day conference of the American Water Works Association in Saratoga which is about an hour south of North Hudson. The conference officially ran through Thursday, making the modest side trip possible.

Told of the explanation, our bemused ex-Long Islander joked: “The facility’s toilet had a broken pump so I just thought they were there to fix it. Actually I was hoping they’d brought bagels.”

— Dan Janison

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