Members of Juniper Civic attended a rally on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 sponsored by Queens Community Board 4 and the staff of St. John's Queens Hospital aimed at keeping the hospital open. Both St. John's and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica are in bankruptcy and threatened with closure.

Elected officials at the rally included Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and Tony Avella, Comptroller William Thompson, Assemblymembers Marge Markey and Michael DenDekker and State Senators Toby Stavisky and Shirley Huntley.

Councilwoman Helen Sears and Congressman Anthony Weiner could not attend but sent their representatives to the rally. Community Board 5 and Juniper Civic member Robert Cermeli spoke and JPCA executive board members Robert Doocey and Joyce Beaudoin joined me in the crowd. Physicians, nurses, support staff and community members numbering in the hundreds marched and chanted, “Patients first!” and “Keep us open!”

In 2008, St. Johns’ Queens Hospital had 48,000 emergency department visits, 7,000 surgeries, 1,227 deliveries, 14,000 discharges and 50,245 clinic visits. In addition, the hospitals have 2,500 employees on payroll. They serve a vital need in our communities and must remain open.

For more information, see the NY1 report about the rally or read the Op-Ed by Catherine Wilkinson, RN, in the Queens Courier.

More photos of the rally are available on Flickr and videos are on YouTube.