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City Councilman Among Those Arrested in Brooklyn Hospital Closings Protest

By  Ben Fractenberg and Seth Maxon | July 24, 2013 8:09pm 

 About 500 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and then gathered in Foley Square in Manhattan to protest the proposed closure of four Brooklyn Hospitals: Interfaith, Brookdale, Long Island College Hospital and Downstate on July 24, 2013
Hundreds gather to protest closure of four Brooklyn Hospitals
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LOWER MANHATTAN — About a dozen people were arrested, including New York City Councilman Brad Lander, after hundreds of people protesting the closing of two Brooklyn hospitals marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

Protesters, some carrying gray headstones reading "LICH Saves Lives," marched from Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn to Foley Square in lower Manhattan, hoping to stop to the closure of Long Island College Hospital in downtown Brooklyn and keep Interfaith Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant open.

"Today, I was arrested while standing up to the illegal closure of Long Island College Hospital," said Lander in a statement posted on his website. "With LICH nurses and other workers from SEIU 1199 and the New York State Nurses Association, the National Action Network, and other community members, we blocked traffic to draw attention to the increasingly dire situation at the hospital."

Interfaith filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2012 after the state reduced Medicaid reimbursments and is now in danger of closing.

"If Interfaith Hospital closes, where are the patients going to go," said Dr. Thulashie Sivajah, who is a second-year resident at the hospital and union delegate with SEIU.

The State Department of Health recently approved the initial steps in closing Long Island Hospital, ordering the hospital become an outpatient only facility by noon on July 22.

"We really don't want the hospital to close, we don't," said Vivian Williams, a receptionist at the hospital. "It's been there for over a 150 years for the community. The BQE is right there. There are mad accidents right there. What happens if there's and accident."