Nurses and doctors from two Brooklyn hospitals on the verge of closure — Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and Interfaith Medical Center — joined clergy, neighbors, and patients from the Bed-Stuy community in front of Governor Cuomo’s office in mid-Manhattan today.
Our message: keep our hospitals open and stop pushing an experimental for-profit healthcare agenda that would ruin Brooklyn patient care, especially for communities of color.
“The governor and real estate developers are pushing an experimental for-profit healthcare ‘pilot program’. Brooklyn patients are their guinea pigs,” stated Linda O’Neill, an RN at LICH.
First shown to the public on Jan. 22, the governor’s draft budget calls for an experimental “pilot program” that would allow hedge funds or private equity investors to experiment with a for-profit hosptial in Brooklyn. Right now, the state's Certificate of Need process prevents for-profit hospitals from operating in the state.
Last week, the New York Times reported again on how these out-of-state private for-profit healthcare chains sacrifice patients for the bottom line. (“Judge Orders HCA to Pay $162 Million.” The New York Times, Jan. 24, 2013.)
“Interfaith serves Bed-Stuy, a predominantly low-income, people-of-color community which already suffers from a shortage in healthcare services,” stated Ari Moma, an RN at Interfaith Medical Center. “If the Governor gets his way, it’s only going to get worse.”
Brooklyn nurses say the governor should be strenghtening Brooklyn community hospitals. Instead, he's driving them deeper into crisis.
They say the financial crisis facing LICH and Interfaith are due to gross financial mismanagement of private consulting firms. Patients shouldn’t have to pay for their misdeeds.
Real estate developers are also eyeing LICH's prime location in one of Brooklyn's hottest neighborhoods. "The real estate developers think our hospital is worth more dead than alive,” O'Neill told the rally.
The rally was called for by the African-American Clergy and Elected Officials Organization and was endorsed by the New York State Nurses Association, The Bed-Stuy Works Alliance, N.A.A.C.P., District Leader Robert E. Cornegy, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU), Bridge Street Development Corporation, and the Save Our Safety Net Campaign.