BROOKLYN, January 11 — Hundreds of angry hospital workers and supporters rallied loudly in front of the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel here this week as racist financier Stephen Berger, a darling of Governor Cuomo, announced his plan to “save” health care in the borough of Brooklyn. Workers who had never been at such a protest (or at least not for a long time) chanted as bosses from Downstate Hospital, Wall Street moguls and Berger himself entered the hotel for a fancy breakfast.
Brooklyn is a borough of 2.5 million people. One in five live below the poverty line and two in five are on Medicaid. An untold number are without any health insurance. In 1980, Brooklyn had 26 hospitals — now it has 15. There are now 41% fewer acute care beds, 2.3 beds per 1,000 residents, compared with Manhattan’s 4.7, the state’s 3.1 and the nation’s 2.6. Disparities in health by income and “race” are concentrated in certain New York City communities, including several in Brooklyn. In 2001, life expectancy in our poorest neighborhoods was eight years shorter than in its wealthiest; that is 4,000 extra premature deaths/year in the poorest communities.
Racism: The Worst Disease
The facts show the racist nature of the U.S. health care system. Brooklyn is 36% black and 20% Latino. Latino New Yorkers are twice as likely to have diabetes. Black New Yorkers are three times more likely to die of diabetes than white residents. Ninety-four percent of elevated blood levels in New York City are among African Americans, Latinos and Asians. If infant mortality rates were equalized, the lives of some 200 babies of these ethnic groups would be saved each year (NYC DOHMH “Health Disparities in NYC,” 2004).