EAST MEADOW - The Nassau University Medical Center's (NUMC) board of directors voted today to send a proposal to state lawmakers that would cut beds in an attempt to win millions of dollars in state grant money.

Under the plan, the number of medical and surgical beds would be slashed by 30, the number of beds in the detox center would be reduced by 10, and another 10 beds would be removed from the chemical dependency rehab center.

In exchange, NUMC says it would expand hiring for primary and preventative care in addition to outpatient substance abuse programs, which officials say are much cheaper than overnight stays.

By reducing its budget, NUMC is hoping to get a $30 million state grant, which would help balance the hospital's books.

However, both substance abuse experts and patients say cutting beds in units like detox amid a drug epidemic on the Island will be a big gamble.

"The key thing is when folks are ready to get help, we want to make sure that the help is available to them," says Jeff Reynolds, of the Long Island Coalition Against Alcohol and Drugs.

The bed reduction plan still has to be approved by state lawmakers, which could take several months.