A Long Island emergency room was forced to close its doors on Monday because of a nursing staff shortage, as a New York state rule took effect that bars unvaccinated medical workers from their jobs.
The free-standing Emergency Department at Long Beach, which is part of Mount Sinai South Nassau, said in a statement that patients would be directed to the hospital’s main campus in Oceanside, N.Y., about five miles north. An ambulance will be stationed at the shuttered facility, the statement said.
The hospital said the closure could last weeks or longer. But closing the Long Beach branch will allow the hospital to maintain adequate staffing at the Oceanside facility, the statement said.
“We regret having to take this step, but the safety of our patients is always our No. 1 priority,” said Dr. Adhi Sharma, the president of the medical center. “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 front lines of the pandemic for more than 21 months. We will continue to be there for our patients.”
New York’s statewide vaccination mandate for health workers does not allow for religious exemptions, which spurred legal challenges. A federal court upheld the policy late last month.
Mount Sinai South Nassau said it had notified the state Health Department on Friday of the need to close the facility, and had submitted a formal closure plan. It is recruiting workers who can show proof of vaccination or valid medical exemptions in the hope of resuming full operations in mid-December.
Mount Sinai’s Oceanside emergency room is a designated trauma facility and sees about 70,000 patients a year, according to the medical center. The Long Beach branch, which opened in 2015, handles about 10,000 patients a year, most of whom are treated and discharged without being transferred to the hospital.