By Tara Kyle
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Several hundred advocates rallied outside St. Vincent's Hospital Saturday afternoon to demand the shuttered Catholic medical center be replaced by a full-service hospital.
Saturday's gathering came nearly a month after a US Bankruptcy Court approved the sale of the old hospital property on Seventh Avenue South and 12th Street.
The deal, a partnership between the Rudin Management Company and North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, would bring an ER, ambulatory clinic and 300-apartment development into the area.
But the new facility would not have a trauma center or in-patient services.
That move has sparked ire from members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, the rally's organizers, and others who want to see nothing less than a full-service hospital placed on the old St. Vincent's site.
"Struggle like you did in the 60s and 70s, struggle like you did for Vietnam," community activist and former St. Vincent's nurse Eileen Dunn said to the mostly elderly crowd, after leading them in a chorus of boos directed at local pols.
Another speaker, Dr. David Kaufman, suggested moving Lenox Hill Hospital downtown, since there are several other hospitals on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem.
"Bring the doctors, bring the nurses, the support staff, the beds, the fancy equipment, bring it all, and we will fill your beds," said Kaufman, an internist. "Let the Rudins move uptown to build their condos."
Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the Rudin Family, said in a statement that the year anniversary of St. Vincent's was "truly a sad day and a reminder we need to return health care to the West Village community as soon as possible," and defended the planned replacement facility from North Shore LIJ-Rudin would "restore cutting edge health care and emergency services and provide a much needed jolt to the local economy."
Some attendees lamented the fact that elected officials did not attend the rally, and that the crowd, several hundred strong at peak, was not larger.
"It's kind of anemic and depressing," said Susan Berger, a 66-year-old artist who said she had two knee replacements performed at St. Vincent's. "Nothing's going to happen unless you see more people."
Village resident Kim Hammond, 41 said: "I wish young people would be here. People in their 30s and 40s who are going to need a hospital."
Civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland encouraged attendees to not be intimidated by others who call their wishes unreasonable.
"Keep showing up," she said. "We're going to keep being out here all summer long."