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Two Years After Closure of St. Vincent's Hospital, Protests Continue

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TWC News: Two Years After Closure of St. Vincent's Hospital, Protests Continue
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Two years after the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital, Greenwich Village residents are still rallying for a comprehensive hospital in their neighborhood – and they're asking city officials to apologize for an overcrowded public hearing held last week. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

A small but determined group stood outside the former St. Vincent's Hospital campus Saturday, still angry that their neighborhood doesn't have a comprehensive health care center following the closure of St. Vincent's two years ago.

"I'm 83 years old and I want to live longer," said Village resident Shirley Gunson. "If there's no hospital here, I don't know what I'm going to do."

Her cry was echoed by a physician who worked at St. Vincent's before it went bankrupt and closed.

"Hospitals should be located on the basis of human need, and not on the basis of corporate and real estate greed," said pediatrician Steven Auerbach.

A plan that's in its final approval stages will replace the facility with a 450-unit luxury housing complex designed by Rudin West Village Associates, and a free-standing emergency department in the O'Toole Building on Seventh Avenue.

Many Village residents say it's not enough.

"Sometimes I feel that because this is a big city, because this is New York City, an international destination, that the residents' voices, the citizens' voices, get lost," one protester said.

And that was the other issue protesters were talking about: Their inability to testify at the last public hearing on the plan, because there were more opponents outside than there were seats inside.

At the start of Tuesday's committee hearing, City Council Member Mark Weprin requested that people leave after testifying to make room for people waiting on line. Some who say they waited hours to get upstairs aren't so happy that they did.

"By the time the day was over and the hearing ended, I was one of the last speakers," a protester said. "I was so weak that when I went to get on the bus I tripped and fell and injured my arm."

The Rudin plan has received unanimous approval from the Department of City Planning, and the City Council has until the end of the month to vote on it before it goes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Despite the vocal opposition, it seems likely the plan will get the green light.

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