Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Last night, hundreds of us went to the Little Red School House to participate in the St. Vincent's Omnibus Committee Meeting with the hopes of moving forward the community's efforts to find a way to open a community based hospital at the site of St. Vincent's.
Encouraged by Senator Duane's recent prediction that a hospital was "achievable" and the days and weeks spent working to create opportunities like this for the community to come together we were cautiously hopeful. We were excited to hear from elected officials and representative from various community board effected, and to ask questions.
Instead, unfortunately, we were not given this opportunity to discuss how to get a hospital. Not even one elected official joined the meeting and Julie Menin, the Chair of Community Board 1 who was there last night and has continued to have great ideas on how to make this happen was not invited on the panel.
Instead, we heard from representatives about plans for an urgent care center by Long Island Jewish Hospital. We also heard from urgent care facilities outside of the area on the lower east side and in Chinatown. While these individuals were very nice and we have no doubt their centers are well kept, as one community member put it "We laude your efforts, but for the purposes we are here for, 'so what?'... will you help us in our struggle to ensure a hospital for the lower west side?".
It was a long meeting and not the most accommodating. But I think we got our message across; We will keep coming back again and again, until our elected officials, our community representatives and those in charge allow us to engage in a truthful and good faith discussion on why this hospital closed in violation of law and how we get a new one to serve our community.
The good news is that we were out in the hundreds, and that each time there are more of us standing up to demand health care for our community. The other good news is that we got a commitment from Brad Hoylman the Chair of this Committee that it would meet with the community to figure out how to have a hospital at the St. Vincent's site. We also asked if the Committee would put forward a resolution to lock the land use so that it could only be used for a hospital, and we got a commitment from Long Island Jewish Hospital to sit down with us to figure out how a hospital could happen at the site.
Enough is enough. We have to sit down and truly discuss the nuts and bolts of how our community gets a hospital back at the St. Vincent's site. I will let you all know as soon as we have a date in the near future to do this.