St. Vincent's Rally
For 161 years St. Vincent's Hospital sat on West 12 Street and Seventh Avenue, serving Lower Manhattan residents, including the poor and uninsured who could not afford care anywhere else. On September 11, 2001, it was the primary medical facility utilized in the emergency response to the attack on the World Trade Center. It was one of New York’s preeminent treatment centers as the HIV/AIDS epidemic swept across the city in the 1980s. But during this time, the hospital also accumulated hundreds of millions in debt and was forced to close its doors April of this year.
Lower Manhattan residents and community leaders have voiced concerns over whether the area’s medical needs are being met since St. Vincent’s closing. On October 17, the Coalition for a New Village Hospital held its “100 Days Without a Hospital” rally in front of the empty buildings of the once-bustling facility. Hundreds of citizens came out to protest the city's failure to provide a full-service medical facility to the people of the lower west side. Led by community activist and attorney Yetta Kurland, protesters were rallied on by a diverse group of speakers, including actress Michelle Clunie and Lt. Daniel Choi, an Iraq War veteran and LGBT rights activist who challenged the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
There is fear over how former St. Vincent’s patients will receive adequate care within close proximity. “This is the first time I've been scared, after 22 years of living with AIDS,” said actor Richard Stack, a plaintiff in Kurland's suit this year against the city's closing of the facility.
Rally attendees directed much of their anger at Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Richard Daines. “I was born in this hospital,” said Village resident Earl Carter. “What city in the United States has a mayor that totally ignores an emergency trauma center being closed without saying a single word? It's the mayor of New York. He didn't do a damn thing about this hospital.”