Read: Analysis by PPF-PA Healthcare Worker

Article photo and heading "There is No Outside"

I WORK AT A NEW YORK SAFETY-NET HEALTH SYSTEM that serves poor folks who are mostly Black and brown. The primary-care clinic where I am a resident closed two weeks ago: like most major hospital systems throughout the US, the hospital has put a stop to all non-acute care, aside from telemedicine. Most of the primary-care doctors and other subspecialists who’d normally see patients for routine checkups have been drafted onto the frontlines, into the emergency rooms and hospital corridors of what professionals call “the inpatient setting.”

Until recently I was at home as a back-up, waiting to fill in when other residents got too sick to work. While I waited, numerous friends checked in on me—some of them even sent me masks in the mail. A number of those masks, like the ones solicited by my brother and gathered from his friends, are real N95 respirators. They’ll do some good for me and my fellow emergency room workers as our system continues to fail us and our patients. My sister made cloth masks, and those I hope never to need.

There is little certainty about how things will look inside the emergency room by mid-April, when mortality is projected to peak—much less in a month’s time. To read the full article, click here.

Statement to Philadelphia & Pennsylvania Government Officials: We Won’t Let You Leave Our People Behind!

Images of organizations that endorsed demands

PPF-PF joined with various organizations this week to call on our city and state government to do more: Our immigrant communities, the poor, and the working class have always been left out of emergency aid, public relief, and rehabilitation programs. We will not stand by and allow history to repeat itself. As such, we as organizations from Philadelphia and across the state have come together to demand more. We call on you to serve those who are sustaining the essential needs of our society during this crisis AND we challenge you to use this moment as an opportunity for transformation.

This global pandemic has revealed to the greater public the structural inequality of day-to-day life that our people have long known and experienced on a daily basis. The old normal was never enough for us. We refuse to go back to the old normal. We urge our city and state officials to work with us to develop a multi-faceted plan of relief that intrinsically addresses the root issues of poverty, criminalization, incarceration, and the lack of access to adequate healthcare.

This is a growing declaration and list of demands for longstanding change to ensure the health, wellbeing, and autonomy of all our people. We are here to lay the groundwork for long-lasting change. To read the full list of demands go here.

April 02, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact:
Clarissa O’Conor
717-203-4097

clarissaoconor@gmail.com
Philadelphia Healthcare Rights Committee, Put People First! PA

“Philly Can’t Wait! Re-open Hahnemann!” 

Community members, including healthcare workers, took action outside closed Hahnemann Hospital this morning to demand Mayor Kenney, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia City Council seize and re-open the hospital, as COVID-19 cases top 1,000.

Normally bustling with commuters, North Broad Street was uncharacteristically quiet Thursday morning, as members of Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) gathered in front of the closed Hahnemann Hospital building, respecting the city’s ban on gatherings larger than ten people. Standing in two rows marked off by white crosses, each 8 feet apart, they demanded that Mayor Kenney, Philadelphia City Council, and Health Commissioner Farley immediately seize and reopen Hahnemann Hospital to care for COVID-19 patients. Protest participants carried signs that read “People Over Profit” and “Tell Joel Freedman: Stop Hoarding Hospitals.” 

As Philadelphia prepares for a surge of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, protestors highlighted the urgency of their demand. “We do not have time to waste,” local doctor and PPF-PA member Karim Nathan declared, “Unlike Boston and New York, we lack a public safety net hospital in Philly. A shortage of beds like we have seen in New York will strain every healthcare worker in Philadelphia. It will worsen the crisis. And it will cost lives.”

In answer to the legal and financial questions about a hospital takeover, Nathan clarified, “The city should not have to line Joel Freedman’s pockets with public funds,” he continued into the megaphone, “Philadelphia doesn’t owe Freedman anything. Our leaders must use all means at their disposal. They have a duty to reclaim Hahnemann before it is too late.” 

Nathan’s calls for reopening Hahnemann, as well as for production of PPE for frontline workers, free testing and Medicaid expansion to cover all Pennsylvanians were interspersed by a call and response chant of “Forward Together, Not One Step Back” and cheers. Protestors ended by singing together a variation of a labor movement song, “Rich Man’s House.” 

For more information of Put People First! PA’s response to the crisis and demands visit: www.putpeoplefirstpa.org/coronavirus.

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PPF-PA Hahnemann Reopening Action Remarks
April 2, 2020

For recorded live stream of Hahnemann action, go to PPF-PA’s facebook page here.

Karim Nathan
Put People First! PA Member
www.putpeoplefirstpa.org

My name is Karim Nathan. I am a doctor and a member of Put People First! PA.
Put People First! PA is a working class, grassroots, base building organization
We have nine chapters across the state and members in 17 counties
We are organizing people across lines of division across PA
We believe healthcare is a human right
Join us at putpeoplefirstpa.org!

We are here because we demand the reopening of Hahnemann and all closed hospitals during this crisis. These hospitals must remain open after the crisis is over!
Forward together… (crowd says “not one step back”)
We demand the immediate production of personal protective equipment for all healthcare workers and frontline workers. Forward together…
We demand the immediate production of testing kits for all PA residents. Forward together…
We demand that all private hospitals be brought under public control for the duration of this crisis to ensure accountability to the public. Forward together…
We demand the expansion of Medicaid to cover every resident in PA.

Read our full list of COVID-19 demands at putpeoplefirstpa.org/coronavirus

Because healthcare is a human right, we demand the reopening of Hahnemann.
Because healthcare is a human right, It cannot be a commodity.
It cannot be bought and sold to the highest bidder, it does not belong in the marketplace.
We believe our right to healthcare is a basic human right that belongs to each and every person in this city, state, country, and world!

Forward together…

That right existed before COVID-19, it exists during COVID-19, and it will exist after COVID-19.
It means we have a right to medicine if we get sick. It means we have a right to a ventilator if we can’t breathe. And It means we have a right to a hospital bed if we require one.

Forward together…

This right belongs to every Philadelphian. It is inalienable. It is based on our common notions of human decency. It does not rest on the mercy of the marketplace, it does not depend on the whim of a Joel Freedman.

Forward together…

In 2019 Joel Freedman closed down this safety net hospital which has served the people of Philadelphia for 150 years. It was part of a pattern of hospitals closing across the state, and the country, not because they weren’t needed to serve the sick, but because they were not making enough money.

In 2019 our city allowed our right to healthcare to be violated by the closure of Hahnemann which thereby deprived so many people the cornerstone of their healthcare. The closing of Hahnemann added strain throughout the city by forcing its patients into the surrounding hospitals. It affected every single patient in Philadelphia by bringing about more crowded emergency rooms and hospital wards.

As a result we are more unready now than ever before for a surge in hospitalizations. Now we stand more unready than ever before. Within two months or less COVID-19 cases are set to spike in Philadelphia. One study has projected Philadelphia to have 2.5 times the number of cases as there are beds.

We do not have time to waste. Unlike Boston and New York, we lack a public safety net hospital in Philly. A shortage of beds like we have seen in New York will strain every healthcare worker in Philadelphia. It will worsen the crisis. And It will cost lives.

This pandemic has shown that betting on things to magically work out in this broken system is betting against peoples lives. We cannot be ready for the worst of this pandemic unless we equip ourselves now by reclaiming Hahnemann as a public asset. We cannot wait until we are overwhelmed with cases of COVID-19. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to marshal our resources in the midst of the crisis.

To Mayor Kenney, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, Philadelphia City Council, and Governor Wolf: you have a duty to act now to ensure that our right to healthcare and to safety are protected. Protected against profiteers like Joel Freedman, against a for-profit system that puts a dollar value on the lives of the people you are sworn to protect.

We call on the leaders of this city to do everything in their power to reopen Hahnemann. We call on you to reclaim this building in the name of this emergency that is clearly upon us, that no one can possibly deny. It is within your power to do this. You must do this.

The city should not have to line Joel Freedman’s pockets with public funds. Philadelphia doesn’t owe Joel Freedman anything. Our leaders must use every means at their disposal.. they have a duty to reclaim Hahnemann before it is too late.

Forward together…

While worried individuals are criticized for hoarding toilet paper, Joel Freedman is literally hording a hospital. He should not be allowed to blackmail and price gauge the people of Philly. If we or our loved ones get sick we deserve a real hospital bed, not a tent on a street or in a stadium.Not while we have a vacant hospital of 500 beds.

Because each and every bed in this building has the potential to nurture and to comfort and save the life of a friend, a neighbor, a family member. The life of a person in this city.

Just think to a time in your life when you may have had a loved one in the hospital. ask yourself, What value would you have placed on their hospital bed? How much was it worth to continue their treatment in a hospital instead of sending them out to a tent or a stadium or a convention center?

Forward together…

This pandemic has shone a blaring light on the moral bankruptcy of the status quo

It has revealed the depravity of a system which puts profits before people, which leaves the supply of ventilators, medicine, testing kits and protective equipment to the invisible hand of the marketplace.

We refuse to sacrifice our health and the health of our loved ones to that invisible hand. we will not sacrifice the health of our loved ones at the altar of profits, at the altar of capital, at the altar of private equity.

We must come together now as a city, in solidarity with each other, and demand that our leaders put the lives of the people of philadelphia above the profits of one man in california.

Because healthcare is a human right and we will come together across all lines of division to fight for it.

READING OF ENDORSERS
ACT UP Philadelphia
AIDS Resource
Anthracite Unite
Better Path Coalition
Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI)
ELCA Deaconess community
Friends of Michelle Siegel – Michelle Siegel for PA Senate District 27
Harrisburg Democratic Socialists of America
Hearts on a Wire
Human Rights Coalition Fed-Up!
Janet Diaz for PA State Senate
Just Harvest
Lancaster County Homeless Union
MarchOnHarrisburg
Movement of Immigrant Leaders in PA (MILPA)
Movement Alliance Project
Partners for Dignity & Rights
Party for Socialism and Liberation – Lancaster
Party for Socialism and Liberation – Philly
Peace Action Network of Lancaster
Pittsburgh International Workers of the World
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Rick Krajewski for 188th State Representative
Unity Coalition of the Southern Alleghenies

Once again we demand:

  • the immediate production of personal protective equipment for all healthcare workers and frontline workers. Forward together…
  • the immediate production of testing kits for all PA residents. Forward together…
  • that all private hospitals be brought under public control for the duration of this crisis to ensure accountability to the public. Forward together…
  • the expansion of Medicaid to cover every resident in PA. Forward together…
  • the reopening of Hahnemann and all closed hospitals during this crisis. These hospitals must remain open after the crisis is over!
  • Forward together… (crowd says “not one step back”)

Hahnemann is not just another building. it is part of our history, part of our city. For 150 years this hospital has been a place of hope for thousands upon thousands of Philadelphians. For 150 years a light has shined through these halls. In 2019 those lights were shut off. Now we demand they be turned back on for each and every person in Philadelphia… because healthcare is a human right.

Join us at putpeoplefirstpa.org