Voices in Focus: Filipino Nurses Hit Hard by Peninsula Hospital Closure

Here’s some news you can use from the ethnic and community press:

* Two publications offered practical information for immigrants living in New York City:

El Correo de Queens alerted us that next week, from Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27, 400 volunteer immigration counselors will be manning the phones for the annual Citizenship NOW! hotline, answering questions from those pursuing citizenship or legal status.

To date, about 100,000 users have received information on the complex journey to citizenship. Citizenship NOW!, which may be the largest program of its kind in the nation, was co-released by the Daily News and CUNY in April 2004 to address the lack of free immigration information for those who need it most.

The phone numbers for the free service, offered from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. next week, will be available on Monday at www.cuny.edu/citizenshipnow/call-in.

And WFUV.org pointed out that last week’s state budget includes a new regulation for chain pharmacies, dPesigned to help those who don’t speak English to get the right medications and use them correctly:

The regulations are designed to help people with limited English and the elderly understand complicated medical instructions.  One of the changes will be to prescription pads.  The modification will give doctors a place to indicate what their patients preferred language is, and pharmacies will have to provide prescription instructions in that language.

The measure will go into effect a year from now, WFUV reported.

Filipino nurses protesting to save their jobs at the Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. (Photo via Filipino Reporter)

* Last week’s closure of the bankrupt Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway hit the Filipino community especially hard, according to the Filipino Reporter, because a large portion of the hospital’s nursing staff was Filipino.

After staging protest rallies and holding series of meetings with the management since last year until early this week, the 1,000 hospital workers — including about 100 Filipino nurses — and approximately 100,000 area residents learned Monday about the hospital’s permanent closure.

“We’re devastated…but we fought till the end,” Fil-Am nurse Agnes Joven, a 28-year veteran at Peninsula, told the Filipino Reporter Monday night, shortly after attending a marathon hearing at the federal bankruptcy court in Brooklyn that sealed the sad fate of the hospital.

Ann-Marie Adams (Photo courtesy of Ann-Marie Adams via Focus)

* It’s always inspiring to hear of successful ventures in the community press, so we appreciated a recent profile of Ann-Marie Adams, a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer in the Rutgers history department and the founder of a hyperlocal news site for Caribbean Americans in Hartford. The profile, in Rutgers University’s Focus magazine, described how Adams started The Hartford Guardian, in 2004 with personal funding and contributions from the city, foundations, and individual donors.

Back then, journalists were skeptical that news sites run with public and private grants would work, but Adams and others proved them wrong. The Guardian now gets more than 400,000 hits daily and continues to provide in-depth coverage of the city, with an emphasis on Hartford’s underserved neighborhoods, like “little Jamaica.’’

“I earned people’s trust and in return they supported me as a social entrepreneur,’’ says Adams.

* In political news, the blog blabbeando recounted an incident involving Democratic State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. at a gathering of his New York Hispanic Clergy Organization in the Bronx earlier this month. Diaz had invited former Dominican president Hipólito Mejia, who is running for president again in the May 20 election. The blog takes both men to task after Mejia, who pledged that he would never allow gays to marry or weaken the island’s strict anti-abortion laws, appeared to accept the “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was born in Africa.

The event received little if any attention from local English-language media but was front-page news in the Dominican Republic. Since then, though, several videos of the event have surfaced on YouTube and one of them in particular has drawn intense criticism.

Racial politics in the Caribbean island can be a touchy issue and Mejia stepped right into it by making what seemed to be a throw-away remark about U.S. President Barack Obama:

If Obama who came from Africa and grew up over there can become the President, why can’t any of you reach as high considering you have a more amusing [ethnic] mix than Obama’s?

* An Indian man who was living illegally in New York was convicted recently of providing material support to Hezbollah, a Lebanese group classified as terrorist by the United States government, The South Asian Times reported. Patrick Nayyar, 48, was convicted after a week-long jury trial in federal court, the Times reported, after he and a co-conspirator “agreed to provide weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Hezbollah between July and September 2009.”

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