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LONG BEACH, N.Y. — A shortage of nurses due to New York State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate forced the closure of an emergency room in Nassau County on Monday, hospital officials said.

The Long Beach Emergency Department, operated by Mount Sinai South Nassau, was expected to close at 3 p.m. Monday. The facility will remain shuttered for at least four weeks, though officials warned the closure could be extended.

Anyone on the barrier island who needs emergency care will be sent to Mount Sinai’s Oceanside campus. While the Long Beach emergency room is closed, an ambulance will be stationed at the facility to shuttle anyone who needs care to the Oceanside campus.

A hospital spokesperson said the decision to temporarily close the emergency room was made after “all other options were exhausted.”

Mount Sinai South Nassau officials notified the state Department of Health about the closure and received verbal approval, according to the spokesperson. A formal closure plan was also submitted to the state.

According to hospital officials, the closure was the direct result of a state mandate issued last week requiring all unvaccinated health care staff working under a temporary religious exemption to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday or face suspension. 

President Adhi Sharma said the closure was made with the safety of patients in mind.

“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,” 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.”