A rally was held at Borough Hall on Thursday, where elected officials joined former and current Downstate employees to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop continued cuts to the teaching hospital.
They are supported by 10,000 residents who signed a petition opposing further cuts to the facility.
Lois Cooper, a lifelong Brooklyn resident, worked at Downstate for the past eight years before she lost her job.
“I am truly saddened by the situation that Downstate has put me and hundreds of my co-workers in,” she said at the rally. “And with the threat of more layoffs to come.”
Cooper spoke about concerns she had feeding her family and paying her bills. Her worries go beyond her own family, however.
“I am concerned for those of us who have chronic ailments or the ones who have other family members who rely on them for monetary support,” she said. “I am concerned for the small mom-and-pop business that we patronize in the East Flatbush community.”
Downstate is the only public teaching hospital in Brooklyn. Borough President Marty Markowitz called on the governor to stop the cuts.
“Governor Cuomo, we admire your leadership, your bold actions you took to end the Con Ed strike, enact marriage equality and a new teacher evaluation system,” he said. “We need your visionary leadership to keep the proud tradition of SUNY Downstate Medical Center going for many years to come.”
Diana Mason works in the outpatient lab as an instructional support technician at Downstate, but won’t be for much longer. She recently received notification that she will be losing her job due to the cuts.
“How can I put food on the table, pay my rent, take care of my children’s school and the health care that they need?” asked the mother of three. “This has been very difficult for my household and the community because losing my job and the services that we provide will impact all of us.”