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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 12, 2013

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


BROOKLYN
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A group of Central Brooklyn faith-based, community and labor leaders rallied today to urge Gov. Cuomo and state Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah to stop any moves to cut vital health care services and jobs at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The appeal came from speakers at the rally conducted by the SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders at the Clarkson Avenue entrance to Downstate’s University Hospital. The rally comes weeks after 65 employees at University Hospital of Brooklyn were notified they’ll be losing their jobs. Another 120 employees are scheduled to be terminated in two weeks, on Sept. 25

“We cannot stand idly by and watch the lifeline of our community be downsized or closed. The lives and livelihoods of the residents of Central Brooklyn depend on Downstate,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Senior Pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship, and Chairman of Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH).

“With the future of two other Brooklyn hospitals in doubt, the need to keep University Hospital a full-service, public hospital is even more vital,” said Rowena Blackman-Stroud, president of the United University Professions chapter representing nearly 3,000 workers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “We must continue to fight to save the critical health care services this medical center provides to hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites each year.”

Members of the Brooklyn delegation – state senators and Assembly members representing Brooklyn – also spoke at the rally in support of SUNY Downstate, its health care services and its employees.

SUNY Downstate is Brooklyn’s fourth largest employer and accepts patients regardless of their ability to pay. The state’s plan to “restructure” the hospital is leading to the shutdown of Downstate’s nationally recognized outpatient dialysis center and its asthma center. Dozens of other vital services, including special units that treat patients for stroke and high-risk maternity care, may also close. Previous job reductions have led to the closure of the hospital’s neurosurgery department and dental clinic.

The coalition is backing a plan supported by several unions, including UUP, PEF and CSEA, that would make University Hospital the hub of four hospital “satellites” to provide health care and host its medical school.

Rally organizers urged concerned residents to join the fight to save Downstate by texting the word DOWNSTATE to 57682. They’ll receive a text urging them to call Gov. Cuomo at (518) 474-8390, and ask him to keep SUNY Downstate operating as a state-run public hospital.

The SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders is a 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 42,000 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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