By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Several hundred Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists -- accompanied by a phalanx of NYPD officers -- marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and rallied in Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon, marking six months since hundreds of them were arrested on the bridge.
Spirits were high and the music was spirited, but the theme of the anniversary march was sobering -- the dire state of health care for Brooklyn residents, especially those served by five hospitals in crisis: Brooklyn Hospital Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.
Wall Street financier Stephen Berger, appointed by Gov. Cuomo to be in charge of restructuring health care in Brooklyn, is recommending that New York change its laws “to allow for-profit investors to invest in financially-distressed public hospitals.”
The group criticized Berger’s plan to close SUNY Downstate's inpatient services and move them to SUNY LICH in Cobble Hill, leaving thousands of central Brooklyn residents without health care services – a plan rejected by SUNY Downstate President John LaRosa. They also criticized his push to close Kingsboro Psychiatric Center and move its services to Staten Island -- a plan that was canceled Friday after Brooklyn legislators interceded on Kingsboro’s behalf.
Berger also blocked an effort to include an emergency room at SUNY Downstate at Bay Ridge.
A meeting will take place at Borough Hall this Thursday night at 6 p.m. to discuss the Brooklyn hospital crisis, said a Save Our Safety Net representative.
Katie Robbins, a member of the OWS group Healthcare for the 99% and a graduate student in public health, was dressed as the Statue of Liberty with an IV drip going into her arm. She said that Healthcare for the 99%, which includes many people in the medical field, is in favor of single-payer health insurance.
Joan Pleune from the Granny Peace Brigade, a group of grandmothers against war, said, “People need to be involved with trying to change the world.”