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LBMC May Declare Bankruptcy

Public forum on hospital scheduled for next week.

Long Beach Medical Center. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Long Beach Medical Center. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)

Long Beach Medical Center will file for bankruptcy as part of a plan to eliminate its debt, according Ray Ellmer, who sits on the hospital’s Board of Trustees, and State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg.

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But as talks of a merger between LBMC and South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside continue, hospital officials say that such statements are premature as the two sides work to finalize a plan.

While Ellmer said the medical center is “definitely declaring bankruptcy” to “get rid of some debt,” Weisenberg called the move to declare bankruptcy one among a number of recommendations the state has made to facilitate the LBMC-South Nassau merger, since South Nassau doesn’t want to “absorb [LBMC’s] existing debt,” according to the Long Beach Herald.

LBMC and South Nassau signed a nondisclosure agreement that prevents both sides from discussing details of the ongoing negotiations, but LBMC spokeswoman Sharon Player said in a statement “no decisions have been made as to the future business plans of Long Beach Medical Center.”

LBMC, a 162-bed hospital, closed after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 when 10 feet of water flooded its basement and wrought an estimated $56 million in damages. And while last June all of the major work to repair the hospital, including the emergency department, was completed, the state Department of Health blocked the hospital from reopening, citing an annual loss of more than $2 million since 2008 and the hospital’s failure to produce a sustainable business plan to meet the community’s needs.

The state advised LBMC to close its emergency department and merge with South Nassau and open a freestanding emergency department, but one that would not receive 911 ambulances, a proposal LBMC maintains isn’t financially viable. In October, a $6.6 million federal grant was given to South Nassau to rebuild on the LBMC campus an urgent care center, but one that would also not accept 911 ambulances. The opening of the facility is pending.    

Ellmer told Patch last week that the urgent care center may not open until next year. “Quite frankly, nobody knows a date; it’s really up to the state and South Nassau,” he said.

Damien Becker, a South Nassau spokesman, said the hospital filed a certificate of need with the state Health Department on Oct. 16 to construct the urgent care center and that the state is expected to approve the application in December, while the hospital still awaits the release of the grant money. Marci Natale, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said the application is still under review, according to the Herald.

In a separate report by the Herald, Becker said that since Hurricane Sandy admissions at South Nassau have increased by about 120 per month, or 75 percent, while treat-and-release visits to the emergency room have increased by about 225 per month, or 86 percent.

While Ellmer told Patch last week that there were four instances in or near Long Beach last summer in which people either suffered serious injuries or medical problems that cost them their lives or nearly did while they were transported to other hospitals, including South Nassau. Previously, at a City Council meeting Nov. 19, Ellmer made a statement that suggested these incidents were due to the amount of time it takes ambulances on the barrier island to travel to South Nassau, which is roughly five miles from the center of Long Beach.

But Billy Piazza, president of the union representing Long Beach Fire Department’s career firefighters, said that while the time it takes an ambulance to transports a patient in Long Beach to a hospital and return to the city can extend up to 90 minutes, he disagreed with Ellmer connecting patients who have died with the closure of LBMC. Piazza told the Herald:

“Is the hospital’s closure a tremendous inconvenience? Yes. But I question the validity of that statement. [Patients] are being treated with the same exact medications [in the ambulance] that they would receive in the hospital.”

Meanwhile, residents concerned about the absence of a hospital in Long Beach are organizing a public meeting for next week on the status of LBMC and the ongoing negotiations. Barbara Bernardino, co-founder of the Beach to Bay Central Council, told the Herald the organization scheduled the forum at the Long Beach Library at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, and will included representatives from the City of Long Beach and the offices of State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, although it remains uncertain if officials from both hospitals will attended the forum. 

Tired of Excuses December 03, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Spend $56 million to repair an unneeded hospital that can't open and then file bankruptcy........financial mismanagement at its finest.....LB needs a 24 hour urgent care facility with 911 ER capabilities & nothing more...I don't know anyone that ever went to LBMC for any elective surgery anyway
Penquin December 03, 2013 at 11:44 PM
If there is anyone out there connected with North Shore - LIJ, NY Langone, St. Francis - please add this hospital to your network. The South Shore has lousy medical care. South Nassau is not very good anymore - A combination of South Nassau and LBMC is lethal.
moe December 04, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Add Winthrop to the top of your wish list. I just started dealing with them, they seem very patient-oriented. SNCH is a good hospital, but financials and P.R. are high priorities for them. They emphasize services that get reimbursed well. SNCH wants former LB patients to keep their beds full... I used to go to LBMCs outpatient services a lot. Even with lousy insurance, they gave me care- maybe not the greatest, but I was treated. After Sandy, I evacuated to Elmont and needed to find medical care, since LBMC was shut down, as were many of my LB doctors. SNCH has a medical clinic that took my insurance, and I read that they had big medical services for storm victims. Turns out they were two distinct things. The clinic would not take me as a patient, they were not accepting evacuees. They told me I had to go to the medical triage center on their grounds. It was big tents set up by hospitals from out of state. It was like a MASH unit. Instead, I called back their real clinic, said I was from Elmont, and got an appointment. .... South Nassau wants to be the "North Shore" of the South Shore. But despite the PR, it really is a community hospital like Long Beach or Mercy. @lambchop, your point is a good one. Why are we assuming that South Nassau is the logical one to "save" LBMC, just because it's close? St John's in Far Rockaway is almost as close to the west end, but we sure wouldn't want them taking over our hospital. Having a small, full service hospital would benefit Long Beach. Very good point that someone should be talking to other hospitals. LBMCs leadership has fallen apart the past 10 years, and the place must go bankrupt. But when that debt's gone, the facility could be restored to the previous level of services, with unbiased planners. These quotes that an EMT in an ambulance gives the same meds as an ER are dumb. Those drugs are to stave off tragedy until a patient can be cared for by a MD in a facility with a lab, xrays, etc immediately available. And then when stabilized, they should have a room to be admitted to, without another ambulance trip. No matter what these experts say, all of us who live here have gotten stuck at that bridge for a half-hour at least once. Maybe the worst anxiety we've felt is being late for work or needing to go to the bathroom! But if we were stuck in the back of an ambulance when we should be rolling into an Operating Room, that's more than an inconvenience.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Hi Moe, I so enjoy your posts - you are a gentle soul with eons of information about Long Beach. You did a smart thing by telling them you were from Elmont instead of an Evacuee - how sad you had to lie. If one of the "better" hospitals took over - they could have a specialty to draw in more business. After the storm, I started using North Shore and what a world of difference from South Nassau - but its a long drive. I read on other blog sites that Winthrop is worth the trip too. Once LBMC officially declares bankruptcy - wouldn't you think other hospitals or medical corporations have the right to bid - just like South Nassau? You know what I heard too - how difficult this has been for the EMTs since LBMC closed. It's been a lot of pressure for them as well and their jobs are so difficult to begin with. I can't imagine the stress they are under. With the right bid from the right hospital and some creative thinking, we could have a wonderful profitable hospital here. It would help our government too - city by the sea, beautiful boardwalk, excellent medical care . Then watch our real estate values skyrocket. Mr. Mandell, I hope you are reading this blog because it could really work out well for you. Anyway Moe - it was so nice to talk to you and I think you and Eddie should get together and write a book on Long Beach. Take care my friend, Lori
Eddie December 05, 2013 at 05:23 PM
According to the State's Health Department release SNMC was the only organization that expressed interest in operating Long Beach Hospital. It seems to be a problem affecting small facilities across the country. But something has to be done to keep some emergency health services on the beach. As Moe says, it's outright unreasonable to accept a wait at the drawbridge for emergency medical care. Without whining about Obamacare, if this is the future of medical care in our nation, it looks like we're moving backwards as a society.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Recently, Ny Langone moved into Lake Success - I don't know if they are taking over Pro Health - or if they are operating as an independent. I wish someone could reach out to them. I agree with Moe - you wait at the drawbridge for emergency medical care - not to mention the traffic. It's disgusting.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM
You know Eddie - you did whine about Obamacare - glad you have no chance of ever getting laid off. Are you part of a two income household? Well, I'm not - I'm a finance professional - in the baby boomer age range and without Obamacare I would not have health insurance. You think it can't happen to you, or any of you righteous idealists? With all the complaining about taxes, raises, etc., all of you especially JK and others think you are exempt from disaster. Good luck in your bubble. Would you rather have your taxes go for my Medicaid - or would you rather I pay out of pocket for reduced Obamacare health insurance.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 06:12 PM
You don't seem to have objections of your tax dollars going to countries who hate our guts and want nothing more than to kill Americans. Why don't you complain about that waste of your taxes? .
Eddie December 05, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I have my opinions about the government running the healthcare industry. I'm not fond of the idea. And I have a single income household, where my wife chose the raise our kids rather than to work outside the home. I chose a career that would compensate me enough that I could afford healthcare. I was lucky and it worked out for me. I'm sympathize with others who don't share in my good fortune or planning or luck or whatever it was. I see you are a staunch defender of socialized medicine and I suppose your personal profit from the scheme has something to do with that support. That being said, I'm not blaming socialized medicine for the failure of Long Beach Hospital. I do know that this Obama scheme will reduce payouts to medical professionals and institutions and I'm warned that it may cause dire shortages in care when providers flee to other professions where they can do better financially. I don't know enough to debate the issue. I know that small local hospitals have been financially strapped for years and appear to be disappearing from the landscape nationwide. Medicare reforms, lowering insurance reimbursements and the rising costs of technological advances are shuttering these small hospitals. Obamacare, like most welfare programs has winners and losers. The winners, who get something love them, and the losers who pay the bill hate them. Then there are some idealists thrown in the mix. I try not to be too jaded, but I've seen that government handles few endeavors successfully.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 06:36 PM
You didn't answer my question - would you rather me pay out of my own pocket for a reduced cost health plan post Cobra, or would you like to pay for Medicaid for folks like myself. I too, had a great paying career and health care - BUT SHIT HAPPENS EDDIE. And I'd rather see this country help their own before handing out billions to those countries who hate us. You did not comment on that subject either. How dare you call me welfare winner after all my years of paying taxes. And I still pay taxes, even though I am laid off. I guess you'll give up your SS benefits because you don't really need them? You really are arrogant.
Eddie December 05, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Wow, I must have struck a nerve. I believe affordable healthcare is important in a civilized society. I certainly believe America should take care of its own before handing out billions to other nations' people. From what I see of the upcoming socialized system, I don't like it. I think it will hurt this nation in the long run even if it helps some right now. I'm sorry you took my comments personally. My disdain is for the Socialists "transfer of wealth" principles, not for you receiving what should be an American's birthright -- affordable healthcare. As far as my Social Security benefits, I paid for them. Many people receive Social Security benefits without paying a dime into the system. You are mixing apples with oranges here. Accept my apology if I offended. You should know me long enough to know where I'm coming from.
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Because I worked all my life, put myself through nights school while working full time and received an advanced degree. Good for you on your success. Do you happen to be hiring? Now as for the socialists - Is that what Mitt Romney was when he put his health care plan in effect for Massachusetts?
moe December 05, 2013 at 09:24 PM
This is a really interesting exchange between you two, but we're getting a little off topic. Unfortunately, both of you make good points. We need to control and fund medical care for everyone in America, but unfortunately I believe "Obamacare" was sabotaged and doomed to fail in it's current form. I believe that it's the big Pharmaceutical and Insurance companies that control health care policy. The reason South Nassau is so interested in LBMC is that they can increase their profits simply by shutting it down. Let's look at one thing we all agree on- Long Beach needs *at least* a real ER. All sides of the political spectrum should demand that, non-negotiable. I believe a small full service hospital could thrive here, if run properly. It would need some creative organization and funding, like done in a couple of small hospitals out on the Island, and many rural areas. Have you ever seen the PT department in LBMC? There's a long line of exercise machines and bikes by big windows overlooking the Bay. Used at night of off-times, many things at LBMC could have been used for income, but the management style there was just don’t rock the boat. @lambchop, I disagree with Eddie a lot, but nobody is remotely as repulsive as JK. As for Americans taking handouts, a lot of the blame goes to business for abandoning American workers. Most only hire part-timers so they don't have to pay any benefits. A large chunk of Americans on Food Stamps are Walmart employees. So, those companies have dumped the bill for benefits on American taxpayers, while they make record profits. Look here- ... http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-13/how-mcdonald-s-and-wal-mart-became-welfare-queens.html
Penquin December 05, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Moe, So much has changed over the years -The health system began failing about 20 years ago when doctors and medical institutions began the process of overbilling. And then it went totally downhill - Once I called an insurance company to let them know I was billed for a procedure I never had - and they were interested - 20 years later a similar incident occurred and they didn't care. The problem with income for a hospital is that emergency doesn't make any money - its overnight ++ stays that generate income. Most of what I've done for a living is now overseas - I don't like to feel sorry for myself in public - but I am lost. I have to go back to school in my late 50's. You know I was not aware you can get food stamps while working like the Walmart employees? But I do own property here and will work off pension/401K $$ until I get back on my feet or marry rich (ha ha). Getting back to the subject at hand, emergency doesn't make $$ for a hospital. We need a full/semi service hospital to serve the city. And you know what Moe - if the Dems in power could realize what good PR they could receive from a good hospital here - they could make it work. I hope after the bankruptcy is resolved perhaps there will be other interested parties. And the only reason I got mad at Eddie is because I interpreted his answer as I was looking for a handout. I've worked hard all my life Moe - I don't always agree with Eddie, but he is usually reasonable and likeable. Unfortunately, Obamacare has encouraged those paying part time benefits like Walmart to switch folks to Obamacare. Please respect that I have worked hard all my life, went to school while I worked full time, and now I am lost. But as always I will find my way. You are the best Moe - I look forward to reading your links.
moe December 05, 2013 at 10:36 PM
100% agree with your thoughts on the hospital... As for you, remember the term "handout" is so subtly negative in itself. Time for more people to remember the story of "A Christmas Carol" and that "unemployed bum" Tiny Tim. That's especially appropriate for the holidays. But everyone who keeps espousing their Christianity might think of this one all year - -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Good_Samaritan
Eddie December 05, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Moe and Lori, I agree with you more than I disagree. When we get past the rhetoric and bravado, we see that most true liberals and true conservatives agree on much the same things. Unless you owe blind allegiance to one of the two extremely similar political parties, you realize that both have significantly destroyed our way of life here. I wonder how much the Dept. of Health is standing in the way of opening a hospital here, as I know they are a player. Unfortunately I don't know enough to point fingers. I just know that small hospitals are failing everywhere, but Long Beach would be an excellent place to find an innovative model that works. We need one here very badly.
moe December 05, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Well said, Eddie. Certain things (like saving lives) should transcend politics. It's good that at least a few of us here realize that. It's a shame that it often takes a tragedy before people put politics aside.
moe December 06, 2013 at 12:04 AM
BTW Eddie and Lambchop, I just wrote my first cross-post on the LB Herald site. It was about an upcoming meeting about LBMC. Virtually nobody comments on articles over at the Herald, though the articles are far from unbiased. You two could definitely help bring out some questions there that should be asked. I think it's amazing that us Patch Posters have come up with more fresh ideas about LBMC than I've read from the 'experts.'
Penquin December 06, 2013 at 12:07 AM
I am not on the "dole" folks - at least not yet!! So respect me. Small hospitals can't survive anymore - that I agree with. However, LBMC is a great opportunity for our newly elected officials to boost this city, improve their own approval rating, and get a decent hospital working here. I have a lot of ideas - are you listening Scott?
Penquin December 06, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Also Obamacare may have worked better if the younger folks signed up and balanced the actuarial rates, but that didn't happen. Just us oldies mostly.
Penquin December 06, 2013 at 12:15 AM
I didn't know we could write on the Herald site - looking forward to it.
moe December 06, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Oh Lambchop, no need to feel you have to defend yourself. Eliminate these terms like 'the dole' from your vocabulary. Even people that do need help from others should not be ashamed, unless they're just plain lazy. And despite some posters, very few people are really lazy. When we had meaningful well paying jobs like during WW2, we had nearly 100% employment and people could save money. Now when a loaf of bread costs $4 and a gallon of bleach $2.79 (Key Food west) many of us are living on the edge. Anyway, don’t perpetuate the stereotypes we learned like "on the dole." Sometimes a word means different things to different people. Such "buzzwords" only divide people and keep us from facing the real issue, which for us here is our hospital. SNCH, politicians and probably businesses have already put 10s of millions of dollars to make us think we'll be okay without a hospital. I hope the stubborn citizens of the barrier Isle catch on to this con.
Eddie December 06, 2013 at 07:20 AM
The history of Long Beach Hospital is an interesting one. The community rallied behind the dream of a community hospital and raised funds to build it. Reynolds donated the land, knowing that the facility would raise property values and make Long Beach a better place to live. It, like all of the Long beach development, vowed to be non-sectarian, which was unusual for the time. Through a huge fund raising campaign, which brought the whole community together, funds were raised to build the place. It would be great to see that kind of spirit today, though many would be discouraged by the huge salaries that the administrators choose to pay themselves today.
Jack December 06, 2013 at 09:59 AM
The problem with LBMC is that it turned into a social-welfare dumping ground. Why do we need a methadone clinic catering to junkies coming from Far Rockaway, Queens and other parts of Long Island? Why do we need politicians putting their hacks into noshow jobs there? Moe and Porkchop: If you can't tell the difference between the south shore and northsore of Long Island then you 2 are really crazy. Have you seen Inwood, Lawrence, Valley Stream, hempstead, freeport, Elmont, Franklin Square, Roosevelt? That's our future here. Hospitals are going out of business because illegal aliens and assorted welfare types are ripping off taxpayers for their continuous medical care at the ER's. Why would a thriving hospital want to build another facility in Long Beach. Urgent care type place are the wave of the future.
Tired of Excuses December 08, 2013 at 08:51 PM
No feasible business plan exists to show how a hospital located in Long Beach can ever be an economically viable entity. A 24/7 urgent care facility that is profitable coupled with a government subsidized 911 ER is all LB needs. @Moe: after WWll the US boomed because virtually all manufacturing capacity in the rest of the world was destroyed & the world bought all their goods from the USA until years later when their own manufacturing capacity was rebuilt.......in addition the domestic US economy released pent-up demand especially household formation and baby boom.......those were unusual circumstances that will not be replicated unless there is another world war that causes no damage to the domestic USA........consumer goods prices would be much higher today if the gov't led policy of imports never occurred, successive Dem & Rep administrations supported this policy to keep the inflation experience of the 70's from happening again.......people just needed to retrain for jobs that never go offshore like plumbers, police, teachers, sales etc........they just didn't do it....and still don't......why not ?
Eddie December 08, 2013 at 08:57 PM
And the government had nothing to do with inflating the money 500%? Now tell me inflation is caused by greedy landlords.
moe December 09, 2013 at 02:44 AM
@Tired of excuses- You're right on target with the fact that both Dems and Republicans sold out America with changed import policies. They literally gave away our industry, gave away our machines and wood and steel. I remember my disbelief when Communist China was granted "most favored nation" status in trade- same unrestricted markets as with Canada, UK, etc. One week we were ready to nuke the Chinese for threatening Taiwan, the next week we threw open the gates to the mint to them. Excellent point that many craftsman jobs are badly in demand with no training for them, and no prestiege shown for such work in the media. My father went to trade school in NYC, got skilled as an airplane mechanic, then a tool and die maker, and did meaningful and satisfying work his whole life. Unfortunately, most kids have no role models like this to follow any more. On TV, cops are portrayed as corrupt or killers, salesmen (like Al Bundy) are bumbling jerks, and plumbers as lumbering goofballs with their pants falling down. We needed a plumber here this week to fix a flooding first floor, and our lives would be disasters without folks like them. This new Common Core curriculum in the schools is standardizing what kids get taught, regardless of their location. Long Beach badly needs plumbers, some areas may badly need day care workers, but there's not much leeway for such things in the schools today. ... Sorry to stray so far from the important topic of the hospital.
marco saltamacchia December 09, 2013 at 12:09 PM
the med center was a patronage mill run by a local ambulance chaser who soaked the city and the med center for all they had. he and his cronies kept the center alive just so they could benefit. more useless people working there and not enough of the hard working medical people. the real medical people killed themselves and were badly underpaid. that's why you never got medical excellence. now, with bumbling idiots that ran it into the ground trying to propose a new plan, you wonder why state reps are laughing at us? eventually the people here have to wake up and demand a better way
BSM December 09, 2013 at 03:14 PM
The Health Dept. isn't helping matters either. Instead of all the behind closed doors negotiations between the board of LBMC and SNCH all those talks should be public record. The DOH should clearly spell out exactly what it wants in order to consider our hospital financially viable and the board should be required to explain why it can or can't meet those requirements. I have worked in Healthcare finance all my adult life and I could make a list of ways they waste money without even doing an audit. My guess is there are many people here in LB who could offer practical suggestions that would make the hospital financially viable.

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