April 02, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.