BROOKLYN - Coffin-carrying protesters stomped across the Brooklyn Bridge Wednesday to mark what they're calling the death of health care.
The rally was in response to the uncertain futures of two Brooklyn hospitals, Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill and Interfaith Medical Center in Bed-Stuy. Ten people were arrested, including Councilman Brad Lander, as the group blocked access to the bridge.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center has been trying to shut down the cash-strapped LICH, but protests and a temporary court order have kept the lights on so far. Ambulance service was canceled last month, and workers today say they were sent home on paid administrative leave.
Across the borough, the state Health Department has ordered IMC to submit a plan for closure. The hospital filed for bankruptcy last December, and state officials have not approved any restructuring plans.
Many accuse SUNY administrators of trying to close LICH in order to sell the property to developers. They also say that the struggles of IMC speak to a bigger problem concerning access to health care in vulnerable communities.
Public advocate Bill de Blasio says 250,000 Brooklyn residents would be affected if the two hospitals were to close.