PALM BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 24)
A growing radical left movement parading under the banner of “community control” threatens New York City hospitals with “turmoil, disruption, instability and lower professional standards,” the Anti-Defamation League of B’rith warned today. It added that the movement can spread to medical facilities in other cities as well. The warning, part of a preliminary ADL report on recent efforts for community control of New York hospitals was made public this weekend by Seymour Graubard, ADL national chairman, at the League’s annual national executive committee meeting here. Graubard told the 300 leaders attending the three-day meeting that while there has been no evidence of overt anti-Semitism in the hospital conflicts thus far, “the ethnic pressures brought to bear on white or ‘establishment’ persons in the hospitals have most often been directed against persons who happen to be Jewish.” The 37-page study named the “three most significant groups” involved in “community control” efforts. These were identified as: The Health Revolutionary Unity Movement, a militant “Third World” organization which describes itself as being citywide and claims representation at Lincoln, Metropolitan, Mount Sinai, Flower-Fifth Avenue, Bellevue, Gouverneur, Harlem and Kings County hospitals; The Young Lords, made up of Puerto Ricans who preach revolution and armed struggle to “liberate” Puerto Ricans in the U.S. and in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and Young doctors and health care workers of activist and New Leftist bent.
Graubard said that “there is no denial of the fact that deep grievances exist in the matter of hospital care; there are inequities, human deficiencies, problems of overcrowding, under staffing and inadequate financing.” He added that while “such inadequacies cannot be excused, it is questionable whether ‘community control’ is the solution or a phenomenon leading to ethnic divisiveness and further grievancee and injustices.” Graubard said that a prime concern of the League is that the conflict may stir ethnic prejudices and resentments similar to those manifested in the New York City school strike where community control was also an issue. Because Jews are present in substantial numbers in New York’s medical facilities, Graubard observed, “many Jews in the medical profession believe the appearance of anti-Semitism is a distinct possibility” and that the victims of attempted extremist takeovers of the hospitals “will be largely if not predominantly Jewish.” The League report described Doctors J.J. Smith and Arnold Einhorn, both Jewish and both ousted from Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, as “the first casualties of the militant ‘community control’ revolution.” The report also noted that there is a current campaign to oust Dr. Gabriel Koz, chief of the psychiatric staff, because of his apparent opposition to “community-worker control” of the department.
RESERVOIR OF YOUNG DOCTORS, HEALTH CARE WORKERS, COMMITTED TO RADICAL CHANGE
According to the report. Lincoln Hospital suffered from a “total effort by allied forces–’community action’ groups, extremist militant organizations and radical staff member–in which there were takeovers, slanderous accusations, threats of bodily harm, breakdown of morale, interference with patient care and ousting of competent and dedicated professional men.” The study listed 12 additional hospitals in the city where similar incidents and pressures have been reported. The League also declared that there is a reservoir of politically-oriented young doctors and health care workers in New York and in other cities who have formed medical organizations committed to radical change. Four groups named are: the Health Policy Advisory Center, the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Student Health Organization. The ADL study described Health-PAC as a New York independent research and education organization which functions as a “propaganda ministry” to help inspire and gird the activities of militant doctors and other health care personnel. Health-PAC, the League asserted, views the public, and especially the poor, as victims of the profit-hungry “Medical-Industrial Complex.” According to the study, the Medical Committee for Human Rights was formed in 1964-65 from a nucleus of doctors, medical students and other health care workers who took part in civil rights activities in the South during the summers of those years. It has since grown and claims nearly 10,000 members in some 23 chapters around the country, and, according to the study, is now committed to “radical restructuring of the health industries through political action” and “community-worker control of all health institutions.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility, headquartered in Boston is closely allied with MCHR. PSR however, devotes itself primarily to the peace issue as it relates to medicine and health–for example, the subject of chemical and biological warfare weapons. The Student Health Organization was formed in 1965 and in its early days was engaged in ghetto community projects funded by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and enjoyed sponsorships by various medical schools. The ADL report noted that by 1968 more than 600 medical students were involved in SHO summer projects to help poverty-stricken people in nine cities. The report added that a change in the thinking of many of the students has also begun to take place and SHO began to evolve in the directions of direct political action within the health care system. Although the report made no recommendations concerning the “complex and growing problems in the city’s hospitals” as surveyed by the League, it concluded that “the dangers inherent in the situation that is now arising in so sensitive and elemental an area of society necessitate a full, in-depth study by a responsible and concerned agency of all the roots of the turmoil–a study which will lead to recommendations for ameliorating the conditions indicated.”