Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passes resolution to reopen labor and delivery unit at St. Francis Hospital
Milwaukee, WI – On Tuesday, April 18 the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution asking Ascension Wisconsin to reopen the labor and delivery Unit at Saint Francis Hospital.
The Coalition to Save Saint Francis held a press conference in the City Hall rotunda after the resolution passed.
“Today the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution urging Ascension Saint Francis to reconsider its closure of the labor and delivery unit that closed at Christmas time at Saint Francis, but also to commit to stop divesting from the city of Milwaukee. We want them to establish a one-year moratorium on any downsizing or service reductions at any of their city of Milwaukee healthcare facilities,” said Alderwoman Jocasta Zamarripa.
“Closing the labor and delivery just before Christmas was a backwards decision and a mistake. This resolution calls on them to make it right,” Zamarripa continued.
This resolution was the result of months-long efforts of the Coalition to Save Saint Francis. The coalition is a broad-based community coalition comprising the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, faith leaders, Reproductive Justice Action – Milwaukee, and other progressive community organizations.
“It is important we have the leadership of progressive unions and community organizations to get results like this,” said Lauryn Cross, co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “When we work together for a better vision for our community, we can achieve anything. When we work as individuals, we are vulnerable to people who do not represent our communities best interest.”
The resolution additionally calls of Ascension to put a moratorium on any other cuts to services in their Milwaukee facilities for the next year.
“Let’s be clear, that Ascension needs to protect and work with our community, including our union, not only on the South Side but also across the city to protect and preserve the services at Saint Francis and every hospital they have in our city and across the state. Shame on Ascension,” said Connie Smith, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT Local 5000.
Breaking with their months-long silence on the issue, Ascension contacted media immediately after the resolution passed signifying, they are not influenced by the continued outcry of the community and elected officials. Due to Ascension’s complete lack of regard for community needs and patient care, the Coalition to Save Saint Francis is committed to keep fighting to reopen the labor and delivery unit and for quality care for all of Milwaukee.
For years, community members and organizations have raised the alarm that Ascension has been a bad actor in Milwaukee, making decisions that benefit profit over patient safety, workers’ rights, and community needs. Ascension is a multi-billion dollar corporation that runs like a for-profit organization with hospitals in multiple states.
“Our hospital systems are non-profit in name only. Ascension is a non-profit, it is a huge healthcare monopoly nationally that has hospitals here in Milwaukee. It has $8 billion in reserves,” said Robert Craig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
Craig continued, “The only reason they are a non-profit is because they are supposed to act in the public interest. They are not operating in the public interest. They are building Taj Mahal hospitals in the segregated suburbs because they pay more money. That is not the role of a non-profit.”
Reverend Joseph Jackson of the Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope ended the press conference with a call to action for city, state and federal officials.
Jackson stated, “There is a balm between the North and South Side of Milwaukee. A balm that heals the sick and the suffering. This victory doesn’t stop with Saint Francis but continues with Saint Joes, Columbia Saint Mary’s, with all of the Ascension systems. In fact, with all of the health systems, we are serving note today. So I will say to everyone here today, to all of our civic leaders to get on board. To Mayor Johnson, get on board. To all city, state and national officials to get on board. To finally put people over profits. Health over wealth. Individuals and families over systems.”