NYC FOCUS: Can we save St. Vincent's?
And for each hospital that closes, that puts further pressure on the surviving hospitals. And as long as we have a substantial number of uninsured, our emergency rooms will be overcrowded with people whose only healthcare option is the emergency room. This cycle leads to more closings, which overburdens the surviving hospitals more, bringing them down. Healthcare reform, going even further than what we already have enacted, is still needed. But we also need some politicians that realize that cutting hospitals, schools, libraries and firehouses will lead to a dysfunctional city.
In this context, I would like to quote an email that came from Yetta Kurland that addresses this issue:
Here is a letter I received yesterday from a neighbor. It gave me a glimpse of what is to come:
On my way from the train on the corner of 12th walking down 7th and approaching St. Vincent's Hospital and I see a man down, ironically, directly in front of the emergency entrance! People are walking by and looking a bit concerned. As I approach I see he is shaking and seems to be having a seizure. There are 4 EMS trucks in front of the hospital but no one is in them and several people went inside to get someone. The man seemed to have been lying on the ground already for a few minutes, as it took me a minute or two to get to him from the corner and he was already down. I stayed with him for about 5-7 minutes waiting for emergency help to appear. Frustrated with the situation I decided to call 911 from my cell. I admittedly felt a bit stupid, and then angry, that I was calling 911 from in front of the hospital. To add further insult, I waited 15 rings before someone from EMS picked-up! Finally, after I hung up with 911, two EMS workers came out from the hospital with a wheel chair(?!), not a stretcher, and dragged the man backwards inside. I can't tell you how appalled I am about the entire situation and I'm wondering if you can tell me where I might be able to file a complaint that would be most effective. The irony of the whole thing leaves me speechless. I only wish I could have filmed it.
Many of you have sat with me at community meetings and participated in town hall discussions where we demanded St. Vincent's open their books and let us help them. We begged our elected officials to do whatever need be done to ensure vital hospital services were not taken away from us. Where has this gotten us? As I listen to the recent plans to shut down the HIV/AIDS services in the next couple weeks, I cannot sit back and watch. Nor can I beg for help any longer.
I have joined with other lawyers and legal workers here in the lower Manhattan area to explore the possibility - I might even say the necessity - of seeking Court intervention to enjoin St. Vincent's Hospital from closing and to direct the Board of Trustees to give back to the community control of our health care facility which has been run into the ground by mismanagement, lack of transparency and who knows what else.
I would love to hear your opinion on this, but here is mine; the health and safety of our community is paramount. It is a compelling area of public and governmental concern. We should not be shutting down St. Vincent's. We should be insisting it provide better services and provide more fiscal transparency. Shutting down necessary public health services, the absence of which would cost lives, is unconscionable and, I believe illegal.
All New Yorkers have a right to health care and state of the art medical facilities that enrich our communities while preserving the look and feel of our neighborhoods.
In the next few days and weeks I will keep you updated on our progress in hopes of ensuring the public health and safety of lower Manhattan.
St. Vincent's actually has a bit of sentimental value for me: it is where Jacob was born. But to me every hospital that goes under directly translates to more dead people who could have been saved. Our politicians are actually killing us with their greed. Obama's healthcare reform will help. But we need more. And we need local solutions that value COMMUNITY and PEOPLE above developers and profits.