The march was a funeral march to mourn what could be the loss of healthcare in Brooklyn. The community, the patients, the nurses and doctors, we formed a funeral march of hundreds and hundreds of people over the Brooklyn Bridge. We built caskets, we all wore black, we stopped traffic. We need to get attention to what’s happening, because if it can happen in our part of Brooklyn it can happen anywhere in New York.
There was some civil disobedience, but that was planned and there were at least 10 people arrested. They purposefully blocked traffic, knowing they were going to be arrested. There were no problems with the march itself; it was very peaceful. In some ways, it was sad. But we were also happy that so many people joined us. There is great support; people are calling our elected officials, writing letters, going to meetings. No one wants our hospital to close, regardless of whether they use it or not. Everyone understands the importance of having a hospital in your vicinity.
Protesters stage a mock funeral procession over the Brooklyn Bridge
The hospital’s important for me because it’s the hospital that saved my life. On a Friday afternoon in August 2011, I woke from a nap in severe pain, as if someone was cutting me in half. I was rushed there in a life or death situation. It turns out that I had sepsis and a perforated colon, and I was in the Intensive Care Unit for most of my month's stay at the hospital. Two surgeries and nine months later, I made a full recovery. It has superb medical care.
If this would happen now and I had to go to another hospital, I might not survive. We are in a very congested area. We need to be able to get to a hospital desperately. And when I say desperately, I mean it could be life-threatening for some. I don’t want to travel 20 minutes by ambulance. I want a hospital in the community that I live in.
When we had Hurricane Sandy, the hospital served as a shelter for people living in the low-lying area of Red Hook. If it was shut down, and we had another hurricane, where would those people go?
Protesters – including New York City councillor Brad Lander to the far right of the picture – stage a sit-in to block traffic. Lander was later arrested along with several others for civil disobedience.
The hospital sits on very valuable land. I personally think the bottom line is that the State University of New York feel like the hospital is losing money, so they want to close it and sell off the property to build fancy co-ops and condos. We do not need more condos with views of the Statue of Liberty [Her concerns are shared by others
in the community].
I believe in Obama Care. But for the people that are supposed to benefit under Obama Care, if their local hospital is closed and their doctors no longer practice in the area, what good is this new medical insurance to them? That’s why we have to make sure this hospital stays open.
I hope this doesn’t happen anywhere else in the country, and I hope people see what’s happening and hold their elected officials accountable. This has been a nightmare. But I am determined to save it.
This article was written by France 24 journalist Andrew Hilliar @andyhilliar