long beach emergency
Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of MSSN, speaks at a groundbreaking for a new emergency building in June. (Courtesy Mount Sinai South Nassau)

Mount Sinai South Nassau’s emergency department in Long Beach closed Monday and will not reopen for at least a few weeks due to nursing staff shortages that resulted from the state’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, the Oceanside-based hospital announced.

The decision to close the facility came after the New York State Department of Health’s order on Thursday to suspend hospital staff who had temporarily claimed religious exemptions from getting the vaccine and could not show proof of first dose, and those who did not present a valid medical exemption, the hospital’s news release stated. Mount Sinai South Nassau (MSSN) did not immediately respond to The Press’s request for how many nurses the hospital let go due to the mandate.

“We regret having to take this step but the safety of our patients is always our No. 1 priority,” Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of MSSN, said in a statement. “This will allow us to shift nursing staff to the Oceanside campus to ensure that we maintain adequate staffing at the Emergency Department at our main campus.”

The hospital is currently recruiting new staff members who can show proof of receiving a first dose of the Covid vaccine or a valid medical exemption. It aims to reopen around Dec. 15 given the staffing shortage has been resolved.

MSSN’s free-standing emergency medical facility in Long Beach, which opened in 2015, serves the barrier island, and MSSN officials say they’ll continue serving that population. An ambulance will stay on site at the Long Beach location and bring emergency patients to the main hospital’s emergency room in Oceanside.

“We are committed to serving residents of the barrier island,” Sharma said. “This closure should not be interpreted as anything beyond what it is – a temporary measure designed to relieve current staffing challenges in our Emergency Department. Our nurses, physicians and support staff have been on the frontlines of the pandemic for more than 21 months. We will continue to be there for our patients.”

The Long Beach emergency department gets about 10,000 visits annually, with most patients being treated on site without needing to be transferred to the main Oceanside campus, hospital officials said.

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus.

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