December 6, 2012

Central Brooklyn faith, community and labor leaders rally to urge action to save SUNY Downstate Medical Center

A newly formed group of faith-based, community and labor leaders issued a strong appeal to Gov. Cuomo and state Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah to save vital health care services and jobs at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The appeal came from dozens of speakers who rallied at a community forum conducted by the SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders. The forum at the New York Congregational Center for Community Life attracted about 200 community residents from Central Brooklyn who are facing the loss of critical health care services if hundreds of jobs are eliminated at SUNY Downstate. Nearly 400 employees have already been notified that they will be losing their jobs.

Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) is part of the coalition.

“CUSH joins in the call to the governor and state legislators to save Downstate,” said CUSH Chairman Bishop Orlando Findlayter of the New Hope Christian Fellowship. “The closure or reduction of services will be damaging to the community. We believe it’s our moral obligation to stand in solidarity with workers and the community.”

“Downstate Medical Center is really the blood bank of Brooklyn,” said Pastor Shane Vidal of the Marantha Seventh Day Adventist Church. “We are calling on Gov. Cuomo and elected officials to stand with us to secure the future of our hospital.”

“SUNY Downstate is an essential institution to the entire community,” said Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. “We face the loss of accessibility to quality health care and the ability of families to be with their loved ones when they need their support the most.”

“As clergy, it is part of our responsibility to make sure that our community has the vital health care services needed to sustain the low-income residents of Central Brooklyn,” said Pastor Gilford Monrose of Mt. Zion Church of God and president of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council.

Rowena Blackman-Stroud, president of the United University Professions chapter representing nearly 3,200 workers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, said the support from clergy and the community clearly shows how much neighborhood residents depend on SUNY Downstate.

“Compromising Downstate compromises the health and economic well-being of an already struggling community,” Blackman-Stroud said. “Many patients who are uninsured or who need the kind of specialized treatments Downstate provides would have nowhere else to turn.”

Community residents whose access to health care services would be severely limited by the job reductions signed petitions urging the governor and state health commissioner to intervene to save health care services and jobs at SUNY Downstate.

The SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders is a newly formed Brooklyn-based organization collectively fighting for vital health care services and jobs at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 37,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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