The city of Long Beach now has an emergency room for the first time since Sandy inundated Long Beach Hospital with floodwaters three years ago.
The new Long Beach Emergency Department is designed to stablize a patient whose life is in immediate jeopardy, from a baby suffering hypotermia to an adult in cardiac distress. There's even a high-tech decontamination room.
There are also special air handling, water handling and camera systems.
Critics question the $13 million expense, saying a neighboring hospital in Oceanside is only 5 miles north. But officials said the state said Long Beach had to have emergency care.
"We had to go through an extensive regulatory process to get the official certificate of need," said Joe Calderone of South Nassau Communities Hospital, which took over the site after the demise of Long Beach Medical Center. "The state Health Department wouldn't have let us do this unless they agreed there was need on the barrier island for an emergency department."
In total, South Nassau Communities Hospital spent $24 million to buy the property from Long Beach Medical Center and build both an urgent care center and the emergency room.
Retired Long Beach resident Patricia Hawkins was one of the first patients treated at the ER Monday, after nearly fainting in the morning. She called for an ambulance, and she said she felt relieved that she didn't have to be transported miles away.
"It's the most wonderful thing they did," she said. "Everyone in Long Beach is thrilled with it."