March 04, 2024

Frontline Care Workers, Community, Unions and Clergy Reiterate Call to Save SUNY Downstate, Release Polling Showing Overwhelming Support

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
SUNY Downstate

NEW YORK — In a press conference today, leaders representing the Central Brooklyn community, alongside frontline care workers at SUNY Downstate Hospital, union officials and clergy members, gathered to release new polling data showing significant community support for keeping the hospital open, despite Gov. Kathy Hochul and State University of New York Chancellor John King’s plan to close it.

The poll, conducted by Hart Research Feb. 22-26, 2024, surveyed 601 Brooklyn residents living near SUNY Downstate. Key findings include:

  • Overwhelming opposition to closing the hospital (71 percent), particularly among people who have received care there (79 percent), older adults (76 percent) and Black residents (77 percent). Three-quarters of respondents want legislators to take action to keep SUNY Downstate open.
  • Increased waiting times at other hospitals and the loss of 4,000 jobs in the community are major concerns for respondents if SUNY Downstate closes, along with the loss of maternal healthcare, perinatal care and NICU services, cardiac care and a level-two trauma ER.
  • The loss of SUNY Downstate’s training and education services, as well as the closing of the only kidney transplant center in Brooklyn, are also concerns for respondents.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The public is sending a clear message to the powers that be: They don’t want Downstate closed. Central Brooklyn—particularly communities of color—will lose access to critical, necessary healthcare services if this vital teaching hospital is shuttered, and voters have made clear, bigtime, that they do not want this economic engine and the jobs it creates cut from their neighborhood. Downstate needs investment, not to be abandoned. The governor and Legislature should listen to the people and take the closure off the table immediately.”

New York State United Teachers President Melinda Person said:

“This data confirms what we’ve been hearing from Brooklyn residents and the healthcare professionals who live and work there: Closing SUNY Downstate would have a catastrophic impact on the community. The state cannot ignore those who would feel this loss the most, and NYSUT will fight to amplify their voices until a final plan for the future of this hospital puts the people of Central Brooklyn at the very center.”

United University Professions President Frederick Kowal said: “The poll data shows that, when asked, the people of Brooklyn expressed overwhelming opposition to SUNY’s destructive closure plan for Downstate University Hospital. We hope that the governor and the Legislature will reject it as well and focus on a sustainable plan for this important public teaching hospital. UUP has been fighting to save Downstate for nearly 20 years, and we will keep on fighting until our hospital’s future is secure.”

Public Employees Federation President Wayne Spence said:

“The survey released today confirms what we’ve said since we first learned of this misguided plan: Brooklyn Needs Downstate. It is a critical healthcare hub in a community that badly needs the services that the PEF, UUP and NYSUT members who work there provide. With New York running a budget surplus, why not just reinvest in Downstate so it can continue to serve the people of Central Brooklyn?”

The presentation of polling data is available here. A transcript recording of the press conference is available upon request.