Another Rally for St. Vincent’s
Hundreds rallied outside the hulking brick building that was once St. Vincent’s Hospital on April 30, exactly one year after the closing of the West Village’s only full-service medical center.
The Coalition for a New Village Hospital, a group advocating the return of medical services to the community formerly served by St. Vincent’s, organized the “Rally to Demand a Hospital.” Protesters demanded the return of a full-service hospital to the site of the shuttered medical center, which closed last spring after 161 years of service to the West Village. They also criticized a plan to return emergency medical services to the hospital’s O’Toole Building, while redeveloping much of the St. Vincent’s campus into luxury apartments.
“What the hell good is an emergency room without a hospital?” asked Eileen Dunn, former president of the New York State Nurse’s Association and a nurse at St. Vincent’s for almost 25 years. “All we’re in this for is to get a full service hospital.”
On April 7, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the $260 million sale of the campus to the Rudin Management Company and health care provider North Shore-LIJ. Rudin Management will redevelop the section of the former medical center on the east side of Seventh Avenue into a series of luxury condominiums, while North Shore will redevelop the O’Toole Building into an emergency care center slated to open in the fall of 2013.
The sale remains subject to approval by the New York State Supreme Court and the State Attorney General’s office.
Protesters criticized public officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, for allowing the hospital to be closed and the Rudin deal to proceed. One sign held at the rally ridiculed Quinn, and other officials like New York State Senator Tom Duane and Alfred E. Smith IV, the former Chairman of the Board of Saint Vincent’s, as the “People Who Sold Us Out.”
Coalition leader and civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland expressed concerns that the Rudin plan would not provide adequate health care to the West Village community. She bemoaned how the residents of the neighborhood had gone an entire year without a medical services within close proximity.
“We are in a health crisis here in the lower west side of Manhattan,” Kurland said. “One year of no medical services. Is this how a civilized society treats its people?”