Civil Disobedience to Defend our Hospital

Civil Disobedience to Defend our Hospital

Today, I was arrested while standing up to the illegal closure of Long Island College Hospital.

With LICH nurses and other workers from SEIU 1199 and the New York State Nurses Association, the National Action Network, and other community members, we blocked traffic to draw attention to the increasingly dire situation at the hospital.

Civil disobedience was central to many important struggles in our nation’s history, including in the civil rights movement. But the decision to risk arrest for what is right is not something I take lightly.

Today’s action highlighted the hypocrisy of the closure of LICH. That State University of New York, which manages LICH, has violated court orders and broken the law as it seeks to close this much needed, much used community hospital, all without serious legal consequences.

Yet when the health care workers at LICH stand up for their institution which provides lifesaving healthcare every day, they walk away in handcuffs.

When my son fell ill with bronchiolitis, we brought him to LICH to get the care he needed. What will happen if a child in Red Hook gets bronchiolitis? Or if someone in Brooklyn Heights goes into cardiac arrest?

Now I recognize that keeping LICH open by court order is not a long-term strategy. At the same time, we must (and are), working to identify a new operator. There is clear interest from other healthcare institutions in the region in operating at LICH. This hospital has been there for 150 years – we want a smooth transition, but we can’t do that if SUNY padlocks the doors.

There is one person that SUNY and the state Department of Health (who approved part of the closure plan) must listen to: Governor Cuomo. But he has been disappointingly silent so far.

The effort to close LICH puts a strain on nearby institutions and puts patients in unnecessary danger. The consequences for the community will be disastrous if the shutdown continues. This is why we need Governor Cuomo to step in and stop this closure.

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