Brooklyn residents and community activists held an all-night vigil Sunday, protesting the planned closure of the financially struggling Interfaith Medical Center. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
A long night turned into an early morning for more than two dozen Interfaith Hospital employees and community members. They held a vigil to make their case to keep the Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital open. They say the stakes are too high for it to close.
"We get gunshots just driving up or somebody might call us and say there's somebody laying in the ambulance bay and we have to go out and get them. Where would these people go?" said Carol Wilson, an ER nurse at Interfaith.
"Twelve hours was nothing to invest for this very worthy cause, so the hospital must stay open," said Reverend Herbert Daughtry, a hospital activist.
Interfaith is in bankruptcy court. It was expected to start winding down operations after a hearing next week. But that hearing was postponed until the end of this month. If the bankruptcy court approves the closure plan, the medical center could shut down by November.
Community members say during this short delay they want to present a plan to keep the lights on permanently.
"We have a reconstruction plan that we feel would be vital for this hospital and give us an opportunity to present that plan," said Interfaith Community Advisory Board Member Sharronie Perry.
The state Department of Health has already shot down one restructuring plan for Interfaith. The effects of a shutdown would not just be felt by patients but by the 1,500 employees at the 287 bed hospital.
"We have to save this hospital. For our jobs, we have our kids, our mortgages, our rents and stuff to pay," said Jennette Harper, an Interfaith patient care technician.
Now community members are left to wonder what will happen to health care in central Brooklyn and how long it will take to get to the next closest hospital if Interfaith closes.
"If they close this we don't have no other hospitals around, in a miles of radius we have no other hospitals around," said Marcel Cothron, a Bud-Stuy resident.
"We have mental health cases, you close those doors, the patients are where, left to do what? Walk the streets of Fulton, Nostrand Avenue, it's unfair," said Nicole Lynch, an Interfaith employee.
Hospital advocates say when Interfaith returns to court on August 26 they will hold another all-night vigil outside the courthouse to plead their case again.