January 8, 2013

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Protestors rally to save public hospitals

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UUP President Phil Smith fires up a crowd of 700 people at a rally in Albany to save SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

About 400 UUP members who work at Downstate have received notices of nonrenewal, heightening fears that the hospital is being downsized, privatized, or converted to an outpatient facility.

“What’s happening at Downstate is a thinly veiled attempt to privatize this public hospital, which provides necessary health care services to hundreds of thousands of patients,” Smith said. “If it can happen to Downstate, it can happen to state-operated hospitals across the state.”

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Eight busloads of UUP members from Downstate and Central Brooklyn’s faith, labor and community organizations packed The Well of the Legislative Office Building for the rally. They were joined by UUP members from SUNY hospitals in Syracuse and Stony Brook and its medical school in Buffalo and other UUP chapters along with their sisters and brothers and leaders from NYSUT, CSEA, PEF, the state AFL-CIO and the New York State Nurses Association.

The crowd chanted “Save Downstate” as speakers urged the governor to intervene to stop the staff and service reductions and keep Downstate a full service public hospital.

Several state senators – Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) – addressed the rally and expressed their support for Downstate.

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