Long Beach Emergency Department earns final approvals

With final regulatory approvals in place, South Nassau Communities Hospital’s Emergency Department at Long Beach is ready roll.

Long Island’s first freestanding emergency department, which will operate 24/7 and receive ambulances via the 9-1-1 Emergency Medical System, is slated to open at  9 a.m. Monday. The opening will mark the return of around-the-clock emergency medical care for the residents of Long Beach, something they’ve been without since Hurricane Sandy shuttered the Long Beach Medical Center in 2012.

The New York State Department of Health issued the final approvals this week and South Nassau officials have been working to arrange full-time emergency physician and nursing coverage and other necessary staffing, according to a release from the hospital.

The renovated facility on the grounds of the former LBMC has been operating as an Urgent Care Center with fixed business hours while awaiting regulatory approvals to operate as a full-fledged emergency department. Since opening 13 months ago, the Urgent Care Center has treated over 3,000 patients, the release noted.

The 6,300-square-foot Long Beach Emergency Department includes six private treatment rooms, an observation unit with three beds where patients can be treated for up to 23 hours, a special infectious-disease room, a medical laboratory, a triage area, a behavioral treatment area, a decontamination room, a trauma room and an advanced Medical Imaging Department that includes an X-ray machine and a 64-slice CT scanner, the only CT scanner in Long Beach.

Following state Department of Health protocols, all acute stroke, heart attack and trauma patients transported by the 9-1-1 Emergency Medical System will bypass the new emergency department and be transported directly to an appropriate state-designated hospital. Patients treated and stabilized at the new facility who require further hospitalization will be transferred by ambulance to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside – a Level II trauma center and advanced cardiac center serving some 900,000 South Shore residents between Queens and Suffolk County – or another appropriate hospital, the release noted.

Richard Murphy, president and CEO of South Nassau Communities Hospital, thanked the Long Beach community and several elected officials – including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), N.Y. State Sen. (and former Senate Majority Leader) Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and the Long Beach City Council – for their support in getting the delayed emergency department off the ground.

The department was scheduled to open July 1, after South Nassau completed an $8 million renovation of the defunct LBMC, but the opening was slowed by the state and federal regulatory approval processes. The $8 million investment was in addition to the $5 million South Nassau Communities Hospital invested to bring the temporary Urgent Care Center up to snuff.

Among the upgrades required to receive final state emergency-department approvals, hospital officials had to install the observation suite, widen certain corridors, improve ventilation systems and give the facility its own emergency power generator.

In addition to recognizing the work of multiple lawmakers, Murphy praised the efforts of South Nassau’s facilities team and medical staff in meeting “dozens of state and federal requirements needed to operate an emergency department,” according to the hospital release.

Citing a “truly collaborative effort,” Rice said she was “proud to have helped cut through the red tape and get this facility up and running during Long Beach’s busy summer season.”

“Long Beach residents will be safer and this community will be one step closer to fully recovering from Superstorm Sandy,” Rice said in the release.

City Council President Len Torres noted the council has been “aggressively advocating since the storm to restore a 24-hour, 911-receiving emergency department in Long Beach.”

“Thanks to the hard work of Assemblyman Kaminsky, Congresswoman Rice and Sen. Schumer, the red tape at the state and federal levels has cleared,” Torres said.