Early Wednesday, January 11th, busloads of protesters descended on the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott to voice their disapproval of policy recommendations laid out in the Health System Redesign: Brooklyn Workgroup’s Report. The report calls for the merging of 5 hospitals – Wyckoff and Interfaith with Brooklyn and Brookdale with Kingsbrook Jewish. The report also recommends the closure of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center and the moving of SUNY Downstate facilities in Central Brooklyn to their LICH campus in Cobble Hill. The plan would remove approximately 1200 beds from the North and Central Brooklyn communities and potentially cut 100s, if not 1000s, of jobs. Unions, community organizations, advocacy groups and Occupy Wall Street-ers all came out to protest the recommendations and support the preservation of vital health care resources and jobs – both of which are severely lacking in North and Central Brooklyn.
Inside the hotel, Crain’s New York – the city’s premier business publication – hosted a $75-a-plate breakfast feauring a panel discussion on the topic of “Solving Brooklyn’s Hospital Crisis”. Featured on the panel was Stephen Berger, financier and head of the working group; Ken Raske, President of the Greater New York Hospital Association; Pam Brier, President and CEO of Maimonides; and Linda Brady from President and CEO of Kingsbrook Jewish. The panel, all white, was a stark contrast to the protesters outside – mostly people of color who actually live, work and get care in the communities affected by the report’s recommendations.
Members of the Save Our Safety Net Campaign (SOS-C), were both inside and outside of the event. After about an hour long discussion of the implications of the report – mostly focusing on the financial aspects of the plan with little discussion of the impact on consumers and surrounding communities – four members of the audience were allowed to ask questions.
SOS-C’s Ngozi Moses, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, asked about the role of community-based organizations in promoting wellness through strategic partnerships with hospitals. Watch her question below:
Time was on the side of the panelists, because after Ngozi’s poignant question the moderator ended the event – leaving the community, somewhat fittingly, still unanswered.