June 10, 2013
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – Just two days before New York’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade, 1199SEIU Pres. George Gresham hosted a “Speak Out” at the Union’s Manhattan headquarters on health issues facing Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans. The theme of this year’s parade was “Salud: Celebrating Your Health.”
“We meet here today to stand with our sisters and brothers from Puerto Rico to let them know that we will do all we can to ensure that residents on the island will soon have universal health care in the form of a single-payer system,” Gresham declared at the June 7 speak out.
Gresham’s reference was to Bill 1185, introduced last month in the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. It calls for the establishment of a panel to study the efficacy of a universal healthcare system in the island nation.
Gresham, who is the international grand marshal in this year’s parade, stressed the importance of health care to all 1199ers. “We know the difference quality care means to each of us. We also know the devastating effects of the lack of care,” Gresham declared.
His remarks were reinforced by Carmen Ramos, a long-time 1199SEIU member and a registrar at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital. “We at 1199 have been blessed with quality care,” Ramos said. “I see the despair of patients who come to the hospital with no insurance. Luckily, because of my 1199SEIU coverage, my late husband was able to spend the last days of his life with dignity and with loving care.”
“Health care is a human right,” Ramos said to applause.