At least 1,000 people gathered outside Hahnemann University Hospital on July 15 to rally against its closure with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The pending closure of Hahnemann was announced in a statement last month, which claimed financial issues are to blame. But in his appearance at the hospital, Sanders, a 2020 hopeful, used the upcoming closing as an example of why his “Medicare for All” platform should be implemented.
Sanders also announced that he will be working to implement a $20 billion trust fund to aid hospitals in financial distress.
The closure of the hospital will slash about 2,000 jobs and displace thousands of patients. The maternity ward has already been shut down and the entire hospital is planned to close by early September.
Sanders pointed out that Hahnemann’s closure isn’t a problem limited to Philadelphia. Over 100 hospitals in the U.S. have closed since 2010.
“If we don’t get our act together and put people before profits, hundreds more will soon be shutting down,” he said.
Sanders called on Joel Freedman, the CEO and owner of the hospital, to fight to keep Hahnemann going strong.
“Work with local officials, work with the unions and the people of this city and keep this hospital open,” he said.
The brief yet powerful rally hosted several speakers involved with both the hospital and government. Maureen May, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (a nurse’s union of which Hahnemann is a member), spoke and thanked Sanders for his support.
“If we don’t get our act together and put people before profits, hundreds more [hospitals] will soon be shutting down."
– 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders
“We are going to stick together and fight to the end,” she said.
A Hahnemann patient who received cancer treatment at the hospital also took to the podium. She served as an example of the hospital’s exceptional care and what patients like her would have to do without it.
City councilwoman Helen Gym was also present at the event. Her and Sanders co-wrote an opinion piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer that amplified their disappointment in Freedman’s actions.
Ohio Senator Nina Turner, Sanders’ campaign co-chair, was also there to rile up the crowd. Additionally, so was Rudi Weinberg, president of Drexel Democrats, who claimed that Sanders is the only presidential candidate that has given this issue any attention.
However, he believes it’s too late to enact change because the thousands of Hahnemann employees have already begun to move on and find new jobs.
“The fact that he tried and that he cares about it is really important,” Weinberg said.
He also highlighted that Hahnemann is one of the few hospitals in Philadelphia that will care for undocumented immigrants and those without health insurance. Without the hospital, they would have nowhere to go, he said.
Nonetheless, Sanders made sure to shine light on the true intentions he believes are behind the closure of the hospital.
“The possible closing of Hahnemann has nothing to do with healthcare, but it has everything to do with greed,” Sanders said.