Healthcare workers, concerned residents and members of Put People First! PA protested outside of the closed Hahnemann University Hospital on Thursday morning, demanding that city officials seize and reopen the hospital to help care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.
Protesters stood in two rows spreading eight-feet apart and carried signs that read, “Tell Joel Freedman: Stop Hoarding Hospitals, Take Back Hahnemann.”
As Metro previously reported, Mayor Jim Kenney said that the City of Philadelphia officially dropped its bid to lease Hahnemann Hospital, which has been shuttered since last year. It would have cost the city $1 million a month to rent the building.
The building’s owner, Joel Freedman, has been under severe scrutiny for what many claim is an attempt to profit off of the coronavirus pandemic. His Center City home was recently vandalized with the words, “Joel Kills” spray painted on the side of the building.
Tensions continue to rise as coronavirus cases grow rapidly throughout Philadelphia. According to the Department of Health, the city has a total of 2,100 confirmed cases as of Thursday afternoon. The total number of fatalities among city residents has climbed to 17.
“Because healthcare is a human right, we demand the reopening of Hahnemann. Because healthcare is a human right, it cannot be a commodity. It cannot be bought and sold to the highest bidder, it does not belong in the marketplace,” Dr. Karim Nathan, Put People First! PA Member, proclaimed during Thursday’s protest. “To Mayor Kenney, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, Philadelphia City Council, and Governor Wolf: you have a duty to act now to ensure that our right to healthcare and to safety are protected. Protected against profiteers like Joel Freedman, against a for-profit system that puts a dollar value on the lives of the people you are sworn to protect.”