Supporters of a healthcare group founded by controversial former state Sen. Pedro Espada gathered in Mount Kisco on Monday, protesting and calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change state plans to remove its Medicaid support.
Nearly 150 protestors chanted "Save SoundView HealthCare!" as they marched along South Moger Avenue, Main Street and other streets with signs. They stopped to talk to anyone who looked interested, informed people of the issues and collected signatures to keep their clinics open. The clinics provide health services to people in the Bronx on Medicaid and who are unable to pay.
The protestors were intent upon getting Governor Cuomo's attention, with the protest location chosen due to the proximity to his residence. Cuomo lives in New Castle, near Mount Kisco's western border.
Rachel Fasciani, a spokeswoman for the Soundview HealthCare Network, said they collected around 100 signatures from local residents and that people tended to express an interest.
"We came to Mount Kisco because the decision to exclude us has been a political decision by Cuomo," he said. "We wanted his hometown, a place served by its own Community Health Center, to know what was happening."
The beleaguered SoundView was connected to Espada's federal indictment in December 2010 over corruption charges. Espada and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, are accused of embezzling money from the organization. When Cuomo was state attorney general, in April 2010, his office filed a civil suit against Espada that accused him of looting the group.
SoundView has faced demise ever since a decision last summer by the state's Health Department to end Medicaid reimbursement. SoundView announced that the decision was upheld last week by a Bronx judge.
“During a year in which the South Bronx has been counted as the poorest, the hungriest and the unhealthiest location in the nation, this decision is a death knell,” said Monica Harris-Coleman, SoundView Board Chair in a press release. “The people of our community are in great need; great need of healthcare, great need of social services and great need of humanity. Today, we are asking those needs be fulfilled by keeping Soundview open. ”