Hospital Closures Stress Health System

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"When you close one hospital, it has a cascading effect on every other nearby hospital," said Kevin Finnegan, the political director of health care workers' union 1199 SEIU. "Those patients need to go to other nearby hospitals."

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Josephine Musarell, 58, started choking at her dinner table the first week ambulances were told not to go to LICH, which is just three blocks from her home. Her family watched in horror as her eyes rolled back and she fell down, fracturing her ankle.

When an ambulance came, she expected to be driven to the closest hospital, but it took 20 minutes to get to another hospital and even longer to see a doctor.

"This is a nightmare, this hospital closing," she said, adding that she was fortunate to catch her breath on her own before the ambulance arrived. "I'm lucky I'm here."

Last Wednesday, doctors and nurses at Interfaith Medical Center, which also faces closure, joined LICH workers as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to mourn what they called the "death of Brooklyn Healthcare."

"Closing is not a solution," Arsen Kotrri, an echo technician at Interfaith, said as he marched. "Closing is just bailing out on fixing a real problem… We're there to serve people, not make money."

Jeaninie Segall, a longtime respiratory therapist at LICH marched a mile across the bridge with a cane, said she hopes the LICH facility can be turned into another hospital after it closes even if her job can't be saved.

"It's a public health catastrophe," she said. "Making it OK to not serve people is shameful."

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