Public Employee Advocate
A United Community
A labor-faith-community coalition fights to keep vital healthcare services.
IT'S A CLASSIC—and inspiring—example of a community coming together to save one of its own. In this case, what's at risk is a hospital, a public medical center that serves the 2.5 million people who call Brooklyn, N.Y., home. The State University of New York Downstate Medical Center has been in the political crosshairs of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature, a target for downsizing, privatization or possible closure.
But the idea of closing an institution that cares for 400,000 patients a year, has a medical school where more than 1,700 students are studying to be healthcare professionals, and is well-known for its pioneering medical research, is not going over well with the community. Speakers at a May rally at SUNY Downstate blasted Cuomo for placing the lives of millions of New Yorkers in jeopardy by failing to commit funding for the medical center, which serves as a safety-net facility, accepting patients regardless of their ability to pay.
"The community is coming together to stand up against the attack on SUNY Downstate Medical Center," said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, senior pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Brooklyn and chair of Churches United to Save and Heal. "We don't understand why the governor refuses to do the right thing. Downstate is a vital part of this community, and, therefore, we call on the governor to provide the necessary funding to keep it open."