Healthcare Profiteering Hurts Workers and Patients:

Put People First Stands with Laid-Off Workers 

at Chestnut Hill and Pottstown Hospitals

Join the fight for Healthcare as a Human Right with Put People First! PA

The Montgomery County Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA (PPF) stands with workers at Chestnut Hill and Pottstown Hospitals in the wake of Tower Health’s November 10th layoffs of over 70 clerical and intensive-patient care providers. The layoffs are part of an effort of “non-profit” Tower Health to maximize profits after its recent $50 million acquisition of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. PPF-PA believes that our lives and jobs as patients and workers shouldn’t be expendable in pursuit of a corporate bottom line. 

Pottstown and Chestnut Hill were two of six hospitals swallowed up by the giant hospital corporation, Tower Health, in 2017. Tower’s 2018 buyout of St. Christopher’s from billionaire Joel Freedman’s healthcare megacorporation, American Academic Health System, brought the number to seven.

Corporate takeovers, closings and consolidations of hospitals are happening all over the country, devastating workers and patients alike. The problem is that healthcare is a business: the enormous incomes of owners, CEO’s and shareholders depend on excluding the maximum number of poor, sick, uninsured and under-insured people – as well as laying off workers and exploiting the remaining with reduced wages, unsafe conditions and increased workloads. We must ask, why do executives take home massive incomes, while necessary and critical jobs are eliminated? Why does our country not provide healthcare for all, like many other nations around the world?  Because healthcare is not treated as a human right! The corporations do not see us, the poor and dispossessed of Pennsylvania, as dignified human beings worthy of care and secure, well-paid jobs. Put People First! PA denounces predatory healthcare profiteers like Tower Health and Joel Freedman. We will not get the jobs and healthcare we deserve without fighting together for it!

That is why Put People First! PA (PPF) is building a statewide grassroots movement of poor and dispossessed people who believe that healthcare is a human right. If you are personally affected by these layoffs as a patient or a worker, or are moved to fight for Healthcare as a Human Right, we want you to join us! We are uplifting our stories together, growing our statewide power and taking action together! Our Montgomery Country Healthcare Rights Committee (HRC) meets twice a month in Norristown. Join us!

To get involved, please contact:

Montgomery County Healthcare Rights Committee (HRC) of Put People First! PA: Co-coordinators: 

Jacob Butterly: 215-908-4661, jsjb.cwrite@gmail.com Jen Cox: 215-906-4087, jenkwru@yahoo.com

The Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA held an action at Lancaster City Hall on Tuesday November 12th, they had great support from those in the community. A previous Lancaster City Mayor expressed he stands by the Lancaster HRC and wishes the city would address the issue of poverty more seriously, something he said he advocated for, for years. The Lancaster HRC was also joined by students and professors from Franklin & Marshall College and members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Leaders of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee shared personal stories and expressed concerns regarding poverty in Lancaster County, showing the need to cross the urban and rural divide to fight the interlocking injustices. The Lancaster HRC’s goal was to put a face to poverty and move past just looking at statistics. They demanded poverty be a primary focus in 2020, demanded a public meeting be called to discuss poverty in the Lancaster community and demanded the Lancaster City administration keep their promise they made to the community on May 20th 2019, regarding the old St. Joseph’s Hospital.

#HealthcareIsAHumanRight #UniteThePoor #PoorPeoplesCampaign

Links to video of remarks and complete City Council Meeting footage:

https://youtu.be/AyD3VzTmc7g

https://youtu.be/y-iTw85vNtY

https://youtu.be/ZgagjAO59fs

https://youtu.be/gVftOctzMKE)

For the 7th Annual Membership Assembly, the Pittsburgh HRC Beauty and Order team decided to design and assemble fabric banners for the opening ceremony and to decorate the Sanctuary where we held meetings on Saturday October 12th. For the opening ceremony, we displayed a banner: “All Our Health Is Interwoven” as we led the procession of members singing “Somebody’s Hurting Our Brother”. The Pittsburgh HRC also created a banner: “We Are The Medicaid Army”, with a background of fabric fists.

Members from the Mon Valley HRC helped us create bows and tabletop pipe-cleaner decorations in PPF-PA colors, red white & black. We used the banner and bow making time as organizing time – as we crafted banners, we also crafted relationships and politics! The Beauty and Order team was led by Olivia Robinson and Rica Phillips, with help from LaMetta Davis, Tisha Robinson, Penny Lynch, Ben Fiorillo & Barbara White. Below are a series of photos to capture the beautiful art that filled our space at the Membership Assembly.

On Friday Nov 1, 2019 at 6:45 pm, the newly formed Lancaster County Homeless Union took its first action at Penn Square in Lancaster Pennsylvania. They partnered with the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA to host a vigil for Desierie Quintero, a leader in the California Homeless Union who was killed by a falling tree after the city of Santa Cruz evicted homeless residents of the Ross Camp. Desierie, known as “Mama Desi” was part of a federal lawsuit against the city for this brutal displacement of families.

(Link to YouTube video footage: https://youtu.be/j9kNLdzgrU8

The Lancaster Homeless Union has been building over the past few months, initiated by the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) in collaboration with the National Union and came to fruition throughout October. Quality healthcare and housing for all are two of the biggest unmet needs in Lancaster County. (Link to YouTube video footage: https://youtu.be/4ZwGNTFE3Bs

Lancaster is the first county in PA to re-establish a chapter of the Homeless Union after the demise of the original union during the 1980’s. The Lancaster County Homeless Union will work collaboratively with Put People First! PA and other groups as part of the PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. (Link to YouTube video footage: https://youtu.be/DExcTqwwC3k

Leaders from the National Union of the Homeless visited Lancaster on September 21 for the Medicaid March on Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital organized by PPF-PA. Medical debt and healthcare crises are leading causes of homelessness and securing healthcare is one of the biggest challenges for unhoused people. Similarly, PPF-PA members fighting for healthcare justice also struggle with housing insecurity amid rapid gentrification and housing is a social determinant of health. (Link to YouTube video footage: https://youtu.be/dieOT4TMAKE)

Join the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee for a free “Day After Thanksgiving” Dinner! 
Because the poor and homeless are hungry 365 days a year, not just Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, Put People First! PA will be joining the National Union of the Homeless in solidarity by hosting a free “Day After Thanksgiving Dinner.” Join us to learn about PPF-PA, The National Union of the Homeless, create a vision for our newly formed Lancaster County Homeless Union, and have group activities towards community building. We are also looking for donations of winter wear items, blankets, socks, underwear and other needed items for all ages to give away at the event. For more information or to donate to this event contact us at 717-298-0562. Please be sure to RSVP so we can be sure to have enough food for everyone. Hope to see you there! (Facebook Event link: https://facebook.com/events/493661421482558/?ti=icl)