A lawsuit between the Department of Health and Long Beach’s Beach to Bay Central Council of Civic Associations was narrowly avoided last month.
According to state law, the Department of Health is required to convene a public community forum within a month of their closing of a hospital. Last July, when the Long Beach Medical Center was closed, no forum was held.
The Council’s attorney, Francis McQuade, asserted that the group would reserve the right to compel the DOH to hold the forum if their request was not granted in a timely fashion. The DOH responded that South Nassau Communities Hospital, which bought the Long Beach Medical Center complex, is scheduled to close its purchase on June 30, signaling that the closing of the medical center is not yet official.
“Subsequently, once the operator surrenders its operating certificate, DOH will hold a public community forum,” wrote Deputy Director of the Department of Health, Robert Welch, in a letter to McQuade.
“We are delighted with the Department of Health’s answer and commend them for their concern and responsiveness,” McQuade later said in a press release. “Their agreeing to hold a public community forum, as required by law, will be important for the community’s voicing their concerns about medical care…it also will allow them to question the circumstances that led to the unraveling and closing of the Long Beach Medical Center.”
In the release, McQuade reinforced the notion that the Council would have otherwise moved forward with litigating an Article 78 suit to compel state compliance. “It’s always better when the state is alert to the public’s rights and needs, rather than fighting it out in court,” he wrote.