LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island hospital has been forced to shut down a satellite emergency room because of a staffing shortage.
Vaccine hesitancy is having a direct impact on health care in the city of Long Beach. The barrier island's only emergency department stopped taking patients Monday, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Sal Gaimalveo was one of the last patents seen at the Long Beach ER before operations shut down at 3 p.m. due to a shortage of vaccinated nurses.
"It's horrible. So what? Are we going to be transferring everyone to Oceanside?" Gaimalveo said.
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Yes, the only emergency room on this barrier island is operated by Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital. Its main ER in Oceanside is a 15-minute drive away. Its president says 99% of hospital staff is vaccinated, but 70 holdouts, including eight ER nurses, are forcing the closure to comply with the state's vaccine mandate.
"We were told as of Monday they could not work anymore," Dr. Avhi Sharma said. "We lose those nurses as of midnight. We could not continue to staff two different emergency departments with the number of nurses we have available."
Hospital officials predict the closure could last a month, while they recruit qualified and vaccinated staff. An ambulance will be stationed there, but Long Beach officials say they were blindsided by the news.
"I'm shocked and I'm deeply worried about the residents of this barrier island. We are 50,000 residents and to find out with virtually no notice that we won't have emergency care here is completely unacceptable," Long Beach City Council member Karen McInnis said.
"By closing this facility, it's also an impact on all other Nassau County ERs," Long Beach City Manager Donna Gayden said.
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They are asking Mount Sinai South Nassau to reconsider the closure. The hospital's request to the state to grant a vaccine mandate extension was denied.
"We can reconsider if an extension is granted. This is a question of numbers. It's that simple," Sharma said.
So as Monday afternoon, the ER is closed. It's a department that gets around 10,000 patient visits per year.
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