The Young Lords: A Reader, “Health and Hospitals”
“Health and Hospitals”
Chapter 9, The Young Lords: A Reader. Edited by Darrel Enck-Wanzer, NYU Press, 2010.
Adequate health care for the poor was one of the chief demands of the Young Lords. Faced with a health-care crisis on various fronts, the Young Lords (together with the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement) started lead poisoning and tuberculosis testing programs, took over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, and demanded equal treatment of all Third World peoples. Articles in this chapter cover the principles of their health program, describe the theoretical and historical rationales used in advancing their arguments, and document specific health initiatives the Young Lords launched in their communities.
Ten Point Health Program
(From the newspaper Young Lords Organization, January 1970, volume 1, number 5)
We want total self-determination of all health service at East Harlem, (El Barrio) through an incorporated community-staff governing board for Metropolitan Hospital. (Staff is anyone and everyone working in Metropolitan, except administrators.)
We want immediate replacement of all Lindsay and Terenzio administrators by community and staff-appointed people whose practice has demonstrated their commitment to serve our poor community.
We demand an immediate end to construction of the new emergency room until the Metropolitan Hospital Community-Staff’ Governing Board inspects and approves them or authorizes new plans.
We want employment for our people. All jobs filled in El Barrio must be filled by residents first, using on-the-job training and other educational opportunities as bases for service and promotions.
We want free publicly supported health care for treatment and prevention
We want an end to all fees.
We want total decentralization of health — block health officers responsible to the Community-Staff Board should be instituted.
We want “door-to-door” preventative health services emphasizing environmental and sanitation control, nutrition, drug addiction, maternal and child care and senior citizen services.
We want total control by the Metropolitan Hospital Community-Staff Governing Board of budget allocations, medical policy, along the above points, hiring and firing and salaries of employees, construction and health code enforcement.
Any community, union, or workers organization must support all the points of this program and work and fight for them or be shown as what they are-enemies of the poor people of East Harlem
POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
QUE VIVA EL BARRIO! FREE PUERTO RICO NOW!
New York State Chapter
Young Lords Organization
Revolutionary Health Care Program for the People
(From the newspaper Young Lords Organization, January 1970, volume 1, number 5)
Mingo El Loco was a brother off the block who helped out the Young Lords Organization every once in a while. He would loan the Organization his car, would help pass out our literature, would recruit for us .. A few weeks ago Mingo was stabbed by another brother. It happens all the time in the street. Our people are always killing each other off instead of fighting the enemy-the pigs, the businessman, the politician.
The ambulance was called. For one hour it didn’t come. Meanwhile the pigs arrived, Mingo was dying on the street, but the police did nothing. Finally, the people tried to take him to the hospital in their own car. He died on the way to Metropolitan.
People dying because of ambulances that arrive late, or in emergency rooms of city hospitals while they wait for hours, happens often. ‘The people have become used to butcher health care and resigned to the fact that they’ll never be decently treated by the health system. But the Young Lords, after Mingo’s death, began to investigate health in New York and we have begun a program to organize the people-community and workers-to demand decent health care.
As we talked to dozens of sympathetic doctors, nurses, medical students, maintenance, clerical and laboratory workers in Metropolitan Hospital, we began to understand more and more about health oppression.
- We learned that many of the diseases that our people die of could be simply cured or even prevented with correct mass health programs which the hospitals do not have. For instance, thousands of children become sick or die because of lead poisoning, from eating fallen plaster in ghetto buildings. A mass lead-poison detection program could save the lives of thousands of our children. Anemia, tuberculosis, bad nutrition, upper respiratory infections, could be stamped out with mass health programs that go out to the people, into the homes and communities, instead of waiting for a patient to come in to the hospital with the disease already in advanced stages.
- We learned that doctors were making 560-70 thousand a year because poor people have to have health care. That their organization, the fascist American Medical Association, for years has been trying to keep the number of medical schools down so that doctors could charge higher fees.
- We learned that the drug companies, like Upjohn, Park and Davis, etc, not only push many useless or harmful drugs just for profit, but that they have much influence in Washington and state legislatures over medical bills. Many times officers of these companies sit on the boards of private hospitals and help determine the policy that has been mistreating our people for years.
- We learned that there are things called health empires: medical schools and private hospitals that through affiliations (contracts with the city) operate and run city hospitals. In New York, for instance, Columbia controls Harlem Hospital, Albert Einstein controls Lincoln Hospital, Beth Israel controls Gouverneur Hospital, New York Medical College controls East Harlem’s Metropolitan. These affiliations end up helping the medical school much more than the municipal hospital. For instance, interns and medical students have much more practice and experience in the city hospital, because in the private hospital, patients are treated by their own doctor and refuse to be treated by students. The poor people who come to the city hospitals are used as guinea pigs, sometimes, for new treatments, methods, new medicines that will then be used on the rich. The priorities for the medical schools are training and research. The needs of the people are for mass, quality free health care. The two are often antagonistic in our society.
- We learned that in our communities, control of health must be taken out of the hands of drug companies, avaricious professionals, pig politicians, and racist administrators and put in the hands of the people. That is why we demand:
COMMUNITY WORKER CONTROL
FREE HEALTH CARE
MASS HEALTH SERVICE
The Young Lords have developed a Ten-Point Program of Health that explains what we want, the minimum necessary for our people-for Puerto Rican, black and poor white oppressed peoples. We have joined with revolutionary workers in other parts of the city, with the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement at Gouverneur Hospital on the Lower East Side, with the Lincoln Hospital workers in the South Bronx, with the Black Panther Party Free Health Clinics in Staten Island and Brooklyn. We are building a city-wide revolutionary health movement that will shake the city to rotten pig core.
The revolutionary health groups have also begun forming an alliance with radical medical students and professionals around a week of activities in February,1970 – People’s Health Week, which will attempt to have teach-ins, demonstrations, and mass health programs, and educate the people about the difference between capitalist medicine and socialist medicine, between medicine that oppresses the people and medicine that serves the people.
By becoming involved in Breakfast Programs, Clothing Programs, Health Programs, the Young Lords are demonstrating to all Latin and other oppressed peoples that we truly do serve and protect. Wherever the people suffer and resist oppression, we are there to aid, shape and lead their struggle.
Long Live Boricua
Long Live Independent Puerto Rico
Free Health Care for Everyone
Hands off Cha Cha
YOUNG LORDS ORGANIZATION
New York State Headquarters
HRUM: Health Workers Organization
(From the newspaper Patante, 22 May 1970, volume 2, number 3)
The Puerto Rican and Black workers in the Human Services is known as an assistant, assistant to the teacher, the assistant to the welfare investigator, and in the hospitals we are the assistants to the doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.
As assistants (sophisticated word for slave) we are totally oppressed and unfortunately at the same time we assist in the oppression of our people.
Eighty per cent of the hospital workers are Puerto Rican and Black – residents of the poorest communities. As Puerto Rican and Black workers in the emergency rooms and clinics, we see what oppression in the hospital is like, the inferior medical attention our neighbors are subjected to or obligated to accept. The worker also gets the same treatment. The enemy effectively divides the people and the worker finds himself divided more and more into two categories: the worker that identifies with the hospital and defends the oppressive, abusive and racist thieving doctors; the worker that does not turn his back on his people and defends the patients and co-workers above everything else.
The newly formed Health Revolutionary Unity Movement is in the second category. The organization was formed for two reasons: we know that the health system will not change unless we push we push that necessary change. The unions 1199 and District Council 37, even though progressive in the question of salaries, do not fight against the conditions imposed on the workers nor the quality of the medical services our people are receiving.
Many struggles have risen in the hospitals by revolutionary Puerto Rican and Black workers. During one of these struggles less than a year ago in Lincoln Hospital, workers took over the mental health services demanding community control of the services. Also in a dump of clinic in the Lower East Side, the Gouverneur Clinic, a similar struggle was waged.
Although the struggles have not triumphed significantly they have helped us to learn self-organization.
The organization is composed of Puerto Rican and Black workers in Metropolitan, Lincoln, Governeur hospitals and NENA Health Center among many others.
We insist that the time has come to act against a system that enriches itself at the expense of our people.
So that our struggle can be effective, we must make clear our purposes. That is why the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement uses the 10-point program as their principal guide. Our efforts have been demonstrated with the educative newspaper “For the People’s Health.” In addition, we work in complete solidarity with the organizations that have shown their commitment to serve and protest the exploitation and oppression of our people, such as the Young Lords Organization and the Black Panther Party.
In the next edition of “For the People’s Health” we shall announce our first general meeting. We invite all workers to attend and in that way join the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement.
In unity, there is strength! The same enemy of Cambodian people is found in the hospitals.
THE HOSPITALS BELONG TO THE PEOPLE!
VIVA PUERIO RICO LIBRE!
Gloria Cruz (field worker – Gouverneur Clinic)
YOUNG LORDS ORGANIZATION
(From the newspaper Palante, 5 June 1970, volume 2, number 4)
Every Saturday, the YOUNG LORDS PARTY goes door to door in El Barrio and the South Bronx, testing for tuberculosis. Even though t.b. has been eliminated among the rich, the middle classes, and white people in general, it is alive and spreading in the Puerto Rican and Black colonies of amerikkka, the “richest” country in the world.
Tuberculosis is known as a disease of oppression, just like lead poisoning, anemia, malnutrition, etc. It comes from being so oppressed by the man that we cannot get jobs that pay enough, houses that shelter us right, or hospitals to care for us; it comes from not being able as a nation, as Borinquenos, to control all these things; it comes from being poor, oppressed, and powerless.
During the last 3 months, in El Barrio, and the last month in the South Bronx, we have given over 800 tests for tuberculosis. One out of every three people tested has had a positive reaction. Why aren’t the hospitals doing anything to prevent t.b. in our communities? Because the hospitals do not serve the needs of our people. They exist only to make a profit. Hospitals are only interested in hospitalization (which costs in the hundreds per day), lab tests and medicines. All of which they can charge a lot for. But, as the YOUNG LORDS PARTY has shown, all that is necessary for t.b. testing is a few hours work and dedication.
We live in a country that makes proper health care a luxury only rich people can afford. Heart transplants and brain surgery are done on rich people; the preventive medicine is not done on Puerto Ricans and Blacks because this capitalistic system wants to make the rulers live longer and let the spics and niggers die off as quickly and quietly as possible.
The racism of the health empire must be exposed. It is in every area of medical service. Puerto Ricans have had “drug problems” for many years, but it wasn’t until a few white kids in the suburbs started getting strung out, that the health empire “discovered” drugs, and a big stink was made in the press. This is like Columbus “discovering” Puerto Rico. The 70,000 Taino Indians had always been there, but just like the drug problem, until the man feels it directly, in his pocket or in his home, it doesn’t exist and he doesn’t give a damn.
Point 5 of the YOUNG LORDS PARTY 13-Point Program and Platform states “We want community control of our institutions and land” and Point 13 says “We want a socialist society.” In a socialist society, the institutions like the hospitals are controlled by the hospital workers and the patients. Also under socialism they extend their services out to the people visiting them in their homes and setting up Free Health Clinics in every block. This type of service which keeps people from getting sick in the first place is called preventive medicine. Although doctors admit it is needed, preventive medicine will never be done in amerikkka, as it is today because it is a capitalist society. Capitalists run hospitals and make money out of Puerto Ricans being sick and if there’s no money, they’re out of business. Socialists are concerned with keeping people healthy, not with making money.
As long as we don’t control institutions like the hospitals we will continue to die of disease like t.b. and receive poor or no health services in general. We must begin to fight together as a people to take over all the institutions that control our lives, by taking the central power that protects the capitalist hospitals, the state Pig administrators who run hospitals and profit from other people’s suffering must be put up against the wall. As long as pigs like these are in our communities, they will continue to use (exploit) us.
The YOUNG LORDS PARTY will continue to serve our people through our Preventive Medicine Programs, and we will at the same time continue to expose the way in which the institutions in our communities exploit us. The YLP will fight until hospitals, police, schools, etc are run by the people, especially those who work in and are affected by these institutions.
FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!
LIBERATE PUERTO RICO NOW!
Ministry of Health
YOUNG LORDS PARTY
The Fight against Prospect Hospital
(From the newspaper Palante, 19 June 1970, volume 2, number 5)
Many of our people believe that hospitals and professionals in the hospitals really want to help them. But more and more people are beginning to realize that the only interest that hospital heads have is how much money they will be able to make out of every patient they see. This exists especially in a hospital in the South Bronx named Prospect Hospital. The majority of the people in the South Bronx have never been treated or examined in this hospital for a number of reasons, but mainly because not so many people have Medicaid or money, so they don’t get treated for illnesses. It is just like the other Corporations in our communities like A&P, John’s Bargains Stores, Key Foods, etc. If you don’t have the money or a credit card, you can’t buy. (If you don’t have money or a Medicaid card, likewise, you can’t be treated.)
The YOUNG LORDS PARTY has started a series of preventive medicine programs in the South Bronx, and detecting tuberculosis is the main program we have now. When we go door to door on Saturdays, we give our people a tuberculine test. Three days atier the test is given we go back to those families we tested to check if the test is positive or negative.If the test is negative, the person is okay. If the test is positive, then the person needs a chest x-ray The chest x-ray tells if the person has tuberculosis or not. If the person has tuberculosis, he will be treated for it. This is what Prospect Hospital should be doing, treating the people in the community for sicknesses that are caused by the living conditions in our neighborhood.
About a month ago, three brothers from the YOUNG LORDS PARTY went to Prospect Hospital to talk to the pig administrator silverman and his flunky freeman. The three YOUNG LORDS explained how our people are dying of tuberculosis every day and that if Prospect Hospital allowed the YOUNG LORDS to use the hospital’s x-ray machines, many lives would be saved. For a whole month these pigs said “no” to us. To them it wouldn’t be right to let us use the x-ray machines since they wouldn’t be making a profit out of it.
Prospect Hospital planned a health fair in order to create a good image, since we were letting our brothers and sisters on the street know where this hospital was really at, and they were worried and felt threatened. So on Thursday, June 4, 1970, at 10 a.m., we went again to talk to silverman and freeman, the administrators. This was the fourth time we went to these pigs to demand what is the people’s. This time their answer was not “no” but “yes” because they were scared about their image. We should all understand that they don’t really want us to use the x-ray machines. The reason they are letting us use them is not because they love the Latino and Black community, but because the PARTY and our people backed silverman and freeman up against the wall.
The YOUNG LORDS will not stop putting pressure on Prospect Hospital. What we want is not just access to Prospect Hospital’s x-ray machines; we want access to Prospect Hospital. Point 5 of the YIP 13-Point Program says: “We want community control of our institutions and land.”
HOSPITALS MUST SERVE OUR PEOPLE!
LIBERATE PUERTO RICO NOW!
Carlita Rovira, Ministry of Health
YOUNG LORDS PARlY
El Barrio Branch
(From the newspaper Palante, 3 July 1970, volume 2, number 6)
In July 1970, Lincoln Hospital will be the victim of the greedy businessmen who make money from the illnesses of the people of the South Bronx. Because of the cutbacks in federal money going to social service programs, the controlling Einstein Medical College empire will have less money to spend on its many hospitals, and Lincoln will be the hardest hit. The Einstein empire will have to redistribute its funds and this will affect worst the Department of Medicine, Section K, and the Emergency Room at Lincoln.
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE:
There is a six month job freeze in the Department of Medicine making it impossible to replace the 5 specialists, including 2 heart specialists and 1 kidney specialist, who have resigned. A vicious cycle of poor health care may result from this because some of the medical students who will be losing their teachers, when the specialists are not replaced, are threatening to leave.
The redistribution of funds will also hit Section K at Lincoln. Section K is the screening clinic. People come here from the street or are referred by departments inside or outside the hospital. In Section K a patient’s illness is diagnosed and he is then sent to the specialty clinic that can give him the treatment he needs. Because of the budget changes, Section K may have to cut out all evening and weekend hours. This means that during the daytime hours the already overcrowded Section K will be even more packed with patients who will have an even longer wait than before.
The budget changes that will affect Section K will also affect the Emergency Room. Patients who ordinarily are seen in Section K will have to be sent to the Emergency Room on weekends and in the evening if Section K is closed during these times. The Lincoln Hospital Emergency Room is now the second busiest in the nation. It won’t be able to stand the strain of any more patients. It isn’t able to handle the present patient load, but with Section K patients in addition to its normal load, the medical care will be even worse than before.
When Dean Scheinberg, the dean of Einstein Medical School, was asked about the changes in spending in the Einstein empire, he said that the money had to be taken either from Jacobi or Lincoln, and they wouldn’t take it from Jacobi, so Lincoln would have to suffer.
As a result of these drastic changes a group of community people, Lincoln Hospital workers, HRUM (Health Revolutionary Unity Movement), and the YOUNG LORDS PARTY came together to form the Think Lincoln Committee (TLC). TLC committed itself to fighting for better health care for the people who are forced to go to Lincoln Hospital for services. The group began to build consciousness among the people, through leafleting, putting up posters, and generally talking to people in the community and hospital. The response of the people of the South Bronx was that it was about time that butcher shop Lincoln was changed into a hospital to serve the people.
After hearing many complaints, the TLC set up a patient-worker complaint table in the Emergency Room. Before long, the complaints of the horrible treatment of our people began to pour in.
The TLC members began to move on each complaint by helping people as they registered at the desk, in the Emergency Room, by confronting the hospital administrator, and by making demands on the hospital that would insure better service for our people.
The five major demands of TLC are: 1) Doctors must give humane treatment to patients 2) Free food must be given to patients who spend hours in the hospital waiting to be seen. 3) Construction on the new Lincoln Hospital must start immediately 4) There must be no cutbacks in services or in jobs in any part of Lincoln Hospital 5) The immediate formation of a community-worker board which has control over the policies
and practices of the hospital.
Because of our activities, the atmosphere of the hospital has changed considerably. The workers are beginning to be concerned about patients’ rights and patient care. They are also beginning to fight with the TLC and other active groups around the issues that we have brought to the attention of the people.
The TLC will continue to struggle day and night to bring decent health care to the people of the south Bronx.
LINCOLN HOSPITAL MUST BELONG TO THE PEOPLE!
HEALTH WORKERS DEFEND PATIENTS!
PATIENTS DEFEND HEALTH WORKERS!
THINK LINCOLN COMMITTEE
TB Truck Liberated
(From the newspaper Palante, 3 July 1970, volume 2, number 6)
Everyday, Puerto Rican people are faced with the same deadly health problem tuberculosis – a disease that affects our lives and a disease that can be prevented. The reason that t.b. isn’t being prevented is that preventing diseases like t.b. cuts the profits of the capitalists that run the city hospitals. Therefore, the hospitals don’t work on preventing these diseases.
The YOUNG LORDS PARTY has always said that the time will come when the people take over all the institutions and machinery that control and exploit our lives. On June 17, the YOUNG LORDS PARTY put this idea into practice. On this day, we liberated an x-ray truck from the politicians that had been using the truck only for propaganda purposes that serve their own interests and profiteering businessmen that only think about making money.
The truck was seized only after members of the YLP had gone to the Tuberculosis Society several times asking them for the use of the truck. Each time, the request was refused. By refusing us, they made it clear that they aren’t concerned with the health of our people. These trucks have been seen in our community only on a very limited part-time basis. We realized that the reason our people didn’t use it was because the people running the show prior to the LORDS were outsiders who couldn’t relate to our people, our language, and our customs. They never made any real attempt to get the people to use the x-ray facilities.
In the three days that we have had the truck, we have already tested 770 people. According to the technicians, the usual amount of people taken care of in the same amount of time is about 300. So, as far as the YOUNG LORDS PAR T Y is concerned, this truck rightfully belongs to the people!
The last point of our 13 Point Program and Platform states that “We want a socialist society.” Under a socialist society, medical services are extended outside of the hospital by setting up clinics in all communities and by visiting people’s homes. This type of medical service is called preventive medicine. Although doctors admit it is needed, preventive medicine will never be done in amerikkka as it is today, because in the capitalist society in which we live, capitalists run health services in order to make more money, not to improve health care. The sicker we are, the more money the capitalist makes. ‘The YOUNG LORDS PARTY believes that health care should be a right for all people not a privilege. That is why we put the x-ray facilities in the hands of the people.
The Ramon Emeterio Betances Free X-Ray Truck now belongs to the people. It will be on the streets 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. This truck is here to service the needs of our people.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!
LIBERATE PUERTO RICO NOW!
Ministry of Health
YOUNG LORDS PARTY
Murder at Lincoln
(From the newspaper Palante, 31 July 1970, volume 2, number 8.)
Our people are being killed every day. The facts are cold and real. Drug addiction, inadequate housing, and inferior medical services all contribute to the slow killing off of our people. Another very specific way that genocide is being committed is through the limiting of our population.
When drug companies came out with the million-dollar birth control pill, they tested it in Puerto Rico. As a result of years of experiments and quack operations (tying of tubes, cutting of tubes), one out of every three sisters of child bearing age on the island is sterilized. Those sisters that they have not been able to sterilize are on pills, loops and all sorts of jive methods to keep us from bearing warriors that will join the fight for our
Just recently, on July 1, 1970, a new plan for the limitation of our population was passed-the abortion law. Under this new method we are now supposed to be able to go to any of the city butcher shops (the municipal hospitals) and receive an abortion. These are the same hospitals that have been killing our people for years.
Already the first abortion death has occurred at Lincoln Hospital, butcher shop of the South Bronx. Carmen Rodriguez, 31, went to Lincoln seeking an abortion. She suffered from many of the diseases that afflict all oppressed people. She was at one time addicted to drugs; she suffered from asthma, anemia, and a severe heart condition. With all these health problems, she was sent to the operating room without her medical history chart even being checked. She was injected with a medication for asthma; however the type of medication used is the worst possible for a patient with a heart condition. But how would they know? They never bothered to check her chart. The punk that was treating her was a student Lincoln is “affiliated” with Einstein Medical school which assigns inexperienced students to learn medicine by practicing on our people. He continued to give her this medication until finally her heart stopped. ‘Then, they proceeded to open her chest up, but by then it was too late – her brain had been damaged. Carmen’s brain stopped functioning on July 17. Although she was dead, the hospital tried covering it up until July 20 when her heart muscle stopped beating. Doctors have recently decided that death occurs when the brain stops.
This death was no accident. Carmen died because amerikkka is killing our people.
Carmen was forced to go for an abortion because under this capitalist system that which is our right – food, clothing, and shelter – is kept from us. Instead we become the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the ill, and the hungry. What choice does a sister have when she is pregnant, thinking of providing for her child? Will he or she grow up to be a junkie or maybe die in the wars created by amerikkkan greed and madness? We know there is but one choice. Armed self-defense and armed struggle are the only means to liberation (Point 12 of the YOUNG LORDS PARTY 13 Point Program).
We will continue to fight for our liberation. We will continue to serve and protect our people in the hospitals, on the streets, everywhere. We know that the realities of oppression will continue to force our sisters to seek these abortions, and so we will continue to educate that this genocide will only stop when we rise up against our oppressors.
DESPIERTA BORICUA OR WE WILL BE THE LAST GENERATION OF SPICS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!
LIBERATE PUERTO RICO NOW!
YOUNG LORDS PARTY
SEIZE THE HOSPITALS!!
Lincoln Hospital Must Serve the People
(From the newspaper Palante, September 1970, volume 2, number 11)
The struggle for better health care at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx continues.
Lincoln Hospital has an abortion waiting list of over 300, but provision has been made for only 3 abortions a day. ‘This means that many of our sisters will be in advanced stages of pregnancy when the abortion is performed; this makes the abortion more dangerous. In addition, these operations are not even performed in a well equipped, sterile operating room, but rather in a small room that had previously been used as a storeroom. The man responsible for this inefficient program is j.j. smith, head of obstetrics and gynecology. He is the man whom we hold directly responsible for the needless death of Carmen Rodriguez, a sister who was killed because she was injected with salt solution that stopped her heart during an abortion. The doctor that was performing the abortion didn’t even check her chart before administering the injection; if he had, he would have seen that she had a heart condition and couldn’t be given that type of injection.
The first time smith was confronted with the inefficiency of his department and examples of how he was failing to provide desperately needed services, he promised to begin doing his job. As soon as the pressure was turned off, he lay right back on his ass, and services continued as usual – nothing being done for our sisters. But the people learned a lesson. They understood that the people who have to suffer this service have the right to demand that an inefficient butcher be thrown out. And that’s what happened. Because j.j. smith wasn’t doing his job and wasn’t running a program that met the needs of our people, he was fired by the community and concerned workers.
In the meantime, lacot, head administrator of the hospital, moved against all the workers and community people that had been working to improve conditions in Lincoln. He got an injunction from the courts saying that workers could not meet to discuss problems of poor health care. In this out-front anti-labor move, lacot said workers no longer had the right of freedom of speech or assembly. He also said that no posters or leaflets would be allowed in the hospital, but he permitted a group of nurses who oppose community control to meet and pass out leaflets whenever they wanted. The injunction also said that any member of the YOUNG LORDS PARTY, the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement, or the Think Lincoln Committee that entered the hospital would be arrested. It went further though to say that any “John Doe” or “Jane Doe” could be prevented from entering the hospital. With helmeted riot police and plainclothes detectives around to enforce this injunction, lacot has given himself the power to bar any member of the community he wants from entering the hospital – he has created a police state where we wanted to create a People’s Hospital.
On Thursday, September 4, the people of the South Bronx fought back and staged a large rally outside Lincoln Hospital. Over 200 people heard speakers from the YOUNG LORDS PARTY, the Black Panther Party, HRUM, TLC, the Unity Movement, Women’s Liberation, and Youth Against War and Fascism pledge their support to continue the struggle to return Lincoln Hospital to the people. The people at the rally demanded:
1) Reparations for the death of Carmen Rodriguez
2) An end to the injunction and the denial of the people’s right to determine the kind of health care they want and need
3) A People’s Tribunal to put Lincoln Hospital on trial and make the people who run this hospital answerable to the people they are supposed to be serving.
4) A general strike of workers
Nobody but us is going to worry about our people and whether they live or die especially not people who live a million miles away and go home to clean, lily white communities where they don’t know what it is to sit hours in hot, dirty rooms waiting to be treated. j.j. smith and the crew that run Lincoln Hospital neither understand nor care what kind of health services we receive. They have made that clear by their practice, everybody in the South Bronx knows that Lincoln Hospital is a butcher shop. So we say it is in our power to remove these inefficient, uncaring dogs and replace them with people who understand that their job is to serve the people and be accountable to them, people who really understand that health care is a right, not a privilege!
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
SEIZE THE HOSPITALS – RETURN THEM TO THE PEOPLE!
YOUNG LORDS PARTY
Seize the Hospitals!
(From the newspaper Palante, 11 December 1970, volume 2, number 16)
For years Lincoln Hospital has been the scene of a continuing fight for better health care. In March. 1969, a group of mental health workers with the help of the Black Panther Party took over the Mental Health Center. In the summer of 1970, the Young Lords Party along with the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement (HRUM) and the Think Lincoln Committee took over the Nurses’ Residence of the hospital In the most recent action on November 11, HRUM and the South Bronx Drug Coalition took over the sixth floor of the Nurses’ Residence. This action was taken to: 1) Implement a drug program that would serve the community effectively and be run by the community, 2) Provide an educational program that would teach the true nature of our oppression and the connection between capitalism, dope and genocide, and 3) Demonstrate the need for a drug program at Lincoln since the South Bronx has a total of 40,000 drug addicts and Lincoln has facilities to deal with at the most 40.
At noon on November 11th. about 35 addicts along with workers from the hospital and community people sealed off the sixth floor and began to implement the drug program. Physicals were given by doctors that had volunteered their time. Beds were assigned, and medicine was given out.
In the meantime, negotiations were going on in the office of the hospital administrator, Lacot. Lacot took the typical anti-people position. His response to the valid community demands was “No program,” and he ordered the people out of the hospital. At 4:00 p.m. Lacot and about 40 helmeted police in riot gear came to the sixth floor (which is only used as sleeping quarters for doctors on call) and ordered the people off the floor or be arrested. When the police finally managed to get past the barricade, 15 people were arrested. These people were put in jail because their interest was in saving the lives of their people.
We have to understand that this action as well as all others was taken after people saw a problem in the community, asked for help and were refused by the hospital. Not until people take positive actions (which are sometimes called “illegal” by the real criminals) does the administration attempt to do something. It has always been this way. This situation was no different. Not until the community and workers got together and took over the sixth floor and were arrested did puppet Lacot (he is only the mouthpiece for the hospital corporation that really controls Lincoln) attempt to throw a program together. What happened in this program run by the hospital was that addicts weren’t getting medicine, were going around sick, and had to go through a whole irrelevant run-around. Finally the program was closed down because of mismanagement
We must begin to ask questions about all the things that affect the lives of Puerto Rican and Black people. Who can better determine what’s best for ourselves than us? If this is the richest country in the world, why is it that this country is 13th in the world in health care? Why is it that we have to live in housing that is not fit for animals? Why do we have to be subjected to an inferior school system? Why is it that the jails are filled with Puerto Rican and Black people? Is it that we are a criminal people? Or is it the conditions that create the problems?
We must begin to realize that we live in a system that does not concern itself with the lives of the majority of our people (who are poor), but rather only cares about how it can obtain more wealth for a few money-hungry businessmen. This country can only exist by exploiting and killing other people, mostly Third World people, like it’s doing in Vietnam, Puerto Rico and all other colonies inside and outside the united states.
We must begin to create struggle everywhere we go, not only in the hospitals but in all institutions that control the lives of our people. We must make them more responsible to our needs.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE
YOUNG LORDS PARTY
Lower East Side Branch