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The following statement was released by PEF President Wayne Spence on Jan. 19, 2024:

“After serving the residents of Brooklyn for more than 100 years with distinction, SUNY Downstate is once again facing a financial crisis.  I heard the news from SUNY Chancellor John King on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  He advised me that this “transformation” plan would result in all the PEF members who work at Downstate – about 400 nurses and other healthcare professionals – working at a new “public” wing of the Kings County Medical Center across the street.

Downstate has been underfunded for years even though it serves a vulnerable community in Brooklyn.  Despite ongoing advocacy for more funding, the hospital was never prioritized in past budgets even as private hospitals secured billions in tax dollars to meet their shortfalls.  The hospital is connected to the only state medical school educating doctors and nurses of color, yet it was starved of resources.  The institution’s current financial woes and infrastructure problems are a direct result of more than a decade of neglect by the previous governor.

This so-called “transformation” proposal is not currently in writing for review by stakeholders.  Unions like PEF, the staff who work at Downstate, or the community the hospital serves were not asked for their input.  But PEF will not stand by and allow this important public decision to be made without PEF weighing in.  Our members are public servants dedicated to delivering services to their communities, and they deserve better.  If the state is serious about “transforming” Downstate and creating a plan with long-term viability, it should start by engaging all stakeholders and asking the Department of Health to release its feasibility study on healthcare disparities and access in Brooklyn.  A real dialogue about the future of Downstate should start now! As information becomes available, I will be in direct contact with PEF members at SUNY Downstate.”