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Hospital Workers Rally State To Keep St. Vincent's Open

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TWC News: Hospital Workers Rally State To Keep St. Vincent's Open
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A rally was held Monday in front of cash-strapped St. Vincent’s Hospital, where elected officials, nurses and hospital workers urged state officials to save the Greenwich Village institution.

St. Vincent’s is currently $700 million in debt.

Governor David Paterson had given the hospital a month to develop a viable rescue plan. But the month is almost over and a task force made up of hospital officials, lawmakers and labor leaders has not been able to come up with a solution.

Workers say not only is this a crisis for the actual employees, but it is also a major problem for the community.

"The nurses need to rally because we need to be together. This has been a very stressful situation for all of us for the last couple of months,” said St. Vincent's Nurses Association President Eileen Dunn.

“I've been employed here for the last 20 years, so basically I grew up here at St. Vincent's; it's a family," said another hospital worker. "It's sad what's going on. But the real issue is the impact it's going to have on the community."

Union employees have already agreed to a 10 percent pay cut for the next four months and non-union workers have agreed to slice salaries as much as 25 percent.

"The Health Commissioner Danes could be a little more helpful as well in terms of getting involved and really putting the state back in a place where compassion and health care is of value," said Lorraine Seidel of the St. Vincent's Nurses' Union.

The hospital has already laid off 300 unionized workers.

A previous deal to buy the hospital and phase out its emergency care facilities was abandoned after much criticism.

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