Hotel workers were there. Teachers were there. And of course, nurses were there. They all rallied on the steps of the DC City Council Tuesday morning on a gloomy, rainy day, “not to beg, not to bargain, we are demanding that UMC be kept open!” said Katrina Clark, president of the DC Nurses Association. And Rev. Graylan Hagler called out the DC City Council for creating what he called “an apartheid healthcare system” in the city by closing hospital after hospital in poor neighborhoods whose residents are most in need. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” chanted the protestors.
The campaign paid off: in two amendments, the Council voted to restore $7 million to the hospital, working to make sure that UMC will be able to continue to serve patients in need. Council Chairman Mendelson restored $4 million, while Trayon White, Councilmember for Ward 8, identified an additional $3 million which was supported by Councilmembers Nadeau, Evans, Todd, McDuffie, Allen, Silverman, Bonds, Grosso and Robert White (Councilmember Cheh voted “present” to avoid a conflict of interest). While cheering the votes, DC Jobs With Justice Executive Director Elizabeth Falcon warned that “There is still more to be done to ensure full funding and services at UMC and any hospital that replaces it.”