Members of the New York State Nurses Association and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East joined with hundreds of health care workers from Brooklyn’s distressed hospitals as well as state and local elected officials to rally outside of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office. Together, they called for a moratorium on all hospital closures in Brooklyn. They’re also asking for a guarantee that they would have a voice in the future of their hospitals.
Jill Furillo, RN, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, spoke of the dire situation at Brooklyn public hospitals.
“Brooklyn patients should not have to worry about their vital community hospitals closing—leaving them without access care, with longer distances to travel and with unsafe emergency room wait times in life-threatening emergencies,” said Furillo. “Brooklyn parents need to know that their children will get the care they need in their communities. Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center must stay open, and the state must act now to stop hospital closures and protect care in the fastest growing borough of New York City.”
In June, the AmNews reported that SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the parent company of LICH, put the kibosh on the hospital’s critical care wards and banned ambulances from bringing new patients to the 150-year-old establishment located in Cobble Hill. According to SUNY Downstate, closing the emergency room, the critical care and psychiatric wards was necessary because of a shortage in staff. However, some have pointed to the elimination of the residency program at LICH as the reason for the shortage of staff.
Maria Castaneda, secretary-treasurer of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said that this isn’t the right time to play with health care workers and the health of Brooklyn’s hospital patients.
“Brooklyn has already seen enough hospital closures in recent years,” said Castaneda. “With more and more people moving to Brooklyn, now is not a time to cut back on health care services, but instead to invest in the infrastructure that will provide quality care throughout the borough now and for years to come.”
Other speakers at the rally included New York City Council Members Letitia James, Darlene Mealy, Steven Levin, Jumaane Williams and Mathieu Eugene, New York state Sen. Eric Adams and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
The goal of the merger between the Interfaith Medical Center and Brooklyn Hospital was to shore up IMC’s finances and had come to a stop. Without support from the state, IMC could be forced to close its doors if it doesn’t receive help from the state.