Activists from and allies of #OccupyWallStreet participated in a march to St. Vincent’s Hospital to highlight the greed and corruption that lead to the hospital’s devastating closure in 2010.
''The whole planet pays homage to Ground Zero, but they pay lip service to the hospital that was on the front lines that day,'' said a man named Christopher, who spoke at a rally at the end of the march, at St. Vincent's Hospital. Because St. Vincent's was a Level 1 Trauma Center, it was the hospital designated to receive those injured by the September 11 attacks.
St. Vincent’s was a Catholic-run hospital, which had a charity mission to serve the under-insured and uninsured. St. Vincent’s lacked the corporate clout to negotiate fair reimbursement rates from profit-driven insurance companies, leading to financial instability. Moreover, the short-term focus of the highly-paid executives and consultants pushed St. Vincent’s into bankruptcy – leading to a public health emergency: there is now no hospital on the Westside below 57th Street.
Two months ago, The New York Post reported that the Manhattan District Attorney was investigating whether hospital executives intentionally let St. Vincent’s fail, so that the Rudin Management Company could buy the hospital’s real estate as part of a controversial luxury condominium development project.
Rudin paid pennies on the dollar to buy the hospital’s real estate, and Rudin now stands to sell luxury condominiums and townhouses, once constructed, that are expected to have a combined fair-market value of over $1 billion.
Anger towards the Wall Street-controlled healthcare system inspired today’s march, which is set to also target Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and WellCare. The march was initiated by a working group of Occupy Wall Street called Healthcare for the 99%, which is composed of healthcare workers and people who seek to end inequality in our healthcare system and our society.