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BROOKLYN - Hundreds of SUNY Downstate Medical Center employees demonstrated outside the hospital recently to protest a restructuring plan that would lead to hundreds of layoffs and the loss of vital health care services. The workers - members of United University Professions, NYSUT’s largest higher education affiliated - conducted their informational picketing during a meeting at the hospital to discuss the fate of Downstate. Downstate officials, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall, and state lawmakers representing Brooklyn residents attended the meeting.
“This restructuring plan threatens vital health care services for thousands of residents in Brooklyn,” said UUP Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud. “It is unconscionable to cut staff and cut hospital services when Central Brooklyn residents desperately need Downstate’s medical services.”
Blackman-Stroud, who also serves as UUP’s statewide treasurer, added that the loss of as many as 1,000 jobs at Downstate would stagger the neighborhood’s economy.
“These job losses will devastate Brooklyn’s already-weak economy. More families will lose their homes to foreclosure, more small businesses will shut down and the borough’s already high unemployment rates will skyrocket.
"I don’t understand how the state can take action to reduce employment in this economically distressed area—we need more jobs, not fewer jobs in Brooklyn,” Blackman-Stroud said.
Downstate is a major academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care—and is the only public teaching hospital in Brooklyn. It serves Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents, as well as patients from Staten Island and Queens.
Phillip Smith, of Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, is president of UUP.