1199SEIU Members and Community Allies Meet To Discuss the Condition Of Brooklyn's Ailing Healthcare System

September 27, 2016

Hundreds of 1199SEIU members and community allies came together in East Flatbush on September 22 to discuss how Brooklyn’s healthcare system could be pulled out of its current crisis and transformed into a sustainable resource that served the whole community.

James Introne, former Deputy Secretary for Health in New York State, has been tasked with overseeing the redesign initiative. He told members: “1199SEIU principles are our principles.” He explained that Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System) had been asked to produce a feasibility study with proposals on how to upgrade local health services in Brooklyn. He expects the results of study to be made public in mid-October.

At the moment, the four hospitals located in Central Brooklyn: Brookdale, Kingsbrook, Wycoff and Interfaith were receiving substantial subsidies from Albany because they were not financially viable, nor were they adequately serving the community. New York State is prepared to invest $700,000 in a new system including more outpatient clinics as well as ‘centers of excellence’ to avoid duplication of services.

Veronica Turner-Biggs, Senior Executive Vice President for Downstate Health Systems at 1199SEIU, said that more money would be needed to ensure access to high quality health care for all and the maintenance of union standards. But she agreed that a re-structure of the current system was badly needed, adding: “Our fight should be about jobs and services, not about beds and buildings.”

Paulette Forbes, an 1199SEIU delegate and advanced imaging technologist at Brookdale hospital, said: “What is really important is maintaining quality services for the community and quality union jobs. At the same time, our hospitals need to stand on their own two feet financially. We want to be sustainable and have security - not to be living hand-to-mouth.”

As soon as the feasibility study is completed, Introne promised to come back to Brooklyn to speak to 1199SEIU members and community allies to hear their views and discuss the implications.