NEW YORK NURSE: April 2010
by Randi Hoffman
NYSNA nurses were among the 700 healthcare activists who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan on Feb. 20, in a rally organized by “Health Care Reform Now!”
“I thought it was important to march because health care is the most important issue we are facing,” said Pat Rochford, a nurse from Mamonides Medical Center. Also taking part in the march were NYSNA members Pat Kane, from Staten Island University Hospital-North who is also a member of NYSNA’s Board of Directors; Margarita Bradford from Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center; and NYSNA Community Affairs Representative Carol Pittman.
“At one point, the march spanned the entire bridge,” said Pat Kane. “It was cold, but it was a beautiful day. It was the first time I’ve ever walked across the bridge, and it was a great reason to do it.”
Once they crossed the bridge, the marchers stopped and rallied in front of the health insurance provider Wellpoint, the parent company of Blue Cross, Blue Shield, which the marchers claim was trying to stall President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill. The protestors also demanded the restoration of the public option, and commended U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for their commitment to keeping it in the legislation.
NYSNA President-elect Winifred Kennedy from Maimonides was one of the speakers. She spoke about extending child and family health coverage and the need for everyone to have access to comprehensive, quality healthcare.
In her speech, Kennedy said, “Nurses have been fighting for health care since 1917, when Lillian Wald fought to start the public health system in New York City, bringing health care access to new immigrants and to those then living in tenements.”
Kane said she was very proud that Kennedy was the only speaker who mentioned the single-payer option. “Her statements were very well-received by the crowd,” she said.
After the rally Kennedy said, “Everyone seemed to be ready and hopeful. ”
Besides Winnie Kennedy, speakers from MoveOn, the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, and the National Physicians Alliance also addressed the crowd.
The march across the Brooklyn Bridge was one of 40 healthcare rallies held simultaneously in 32 states around the nation.