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Lawmakers say saving troubled Nassau University Medical Center is a top priority

Lawmakers say saving troubled Nassau University Medical Center is a top priority 02:22

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- It serves Nassau's most vulnerable residents, but is the county's most at-risk public hospital.

Some Long Island state legislators want state oversight to help the struggling medical center keep its doors open, but some lawmakers told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan on Monday they fear state control could mean closure.

Nassau University Medical Center -- NUMC -- is the only Level 1 trauma and burn center on Long Island.

"I thank you all. You guys did a phenomenal job on me and I am walking proof that this hospital performs miracles," said Officer George Day of Nassau County Police's Motorcycle Unit.

The county's only safety-net hospital has a respected medical staff, but with $1 billion in liabilities, huge annual deficits, arrests for internal embezzlement, and poor ratings, some kind of change is necessary.

"Decades of mismanagement, cronyism and corruption," said state Sen. Kevin Thomas, a Democrat who represents Levittown. "So, I introduced a bill to change all if that."

The sponsors of the bill want to expand the NUMC board to include "competent and qualified individuals who will professionalize and depoliticize the operations of the hospital."

County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he was blindsided by legislation to increase board members from 15 to 21 and urged any state oversight of NUMC be stricken from the budget.

"This was a blatant political grab by the state because they want to close this hospital," Blakeman said. "That's their game plan and we're not going to let that happen."

But Democrats say the opposite, adding NUMC is a lifeline needed more than ever. They told McLogan county and state leaders of both parties must work together.

"Bringing this hospital whole and sustainability measures," Assemblywoman Taylor Darling said. "We need to get it fixed. You need the funds. We are going to be involved, and that's where it stands."

Blakeman selected Matthew Bruderman, a top Republican donor, as chairman of the board.

"I am facing these people because they are who are important and why I am here," Bruderman said. "I don't care what the press says. Don't believe what you read in the paper. I am a smart and powerful guy."

Bruderman said he will succeed in turning around the hospital.

"If you take the politics out of the hospital, we are going to be doing a fantastic job. We just need support," NUMC President and CEO Dr. Anthony Boutin said.

The hospital wants to provide equitable medical treatment for all county residents.

Patients said this is much more than politics and patronage. It's a matter of life and death.

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