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Right-wing anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ organization sets up hospital in Central Park

By Michela Martinazzi |
April 1, 2020
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Central Park in NYC. (FightBack!New/Gothamist)

New York, NY -This past week reports poured in as New York City opened and built several new medical support structures to aid the overwhelmed city hospital network. Over the weekend, pictures of the converted Javits Center, a huge convention center in Midtown, were circling around, boasting 1200 new hospital beds.

On Tuesday, March 30, tents began going up in Central Park. The makeshift tent hospital will have 68 beds, each with their own respiratory equipment. It will treat overflow patients from Mount Sinai Hospital as the spread of COVID-19 continues to overwhelm NYC hospitals. As Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the new makeshift hospital, he glossed over the finer details of the organization which funded and erected the new facility – Samaritan’s Purse.

Samaritan’s Purse is led by Franklin Graham, an anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher, who has used humanitarian and charitable missions to preach an evangelical agenda.

Samaritan’s Purse is already hard at work with its bigoted agenda as Graham’s son, Billy Graham, is seeking to recruit only Christian medical staff to the facility in Central Park. Graham and his son are asking all volunteers and staff to adhere to their statement of faith, where they define marriage as "exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female" and the unrighteous are sentenced to "everlasting punishment in hell."

Under normal circumstances, involvement from a right-wing fundamentalist organization in the medical field is troubling. During a pandemic, it’s dangerous and could cost the lives of hundreds. Under normal circumstances, folks have a choice to disregard certain medical facilities. During a pandemic, where hospitals are overwhelmed and access to a ventilator is a matter of life or death, many will have to turn to makeshift facilities.

A NYC city hall spokesperson stated that any field hospital must operate as an extension of the permanent facility, and therefore their code of conduct. The Samaritan’s Purse facility should be operating under Mount Sinai and therefore must adhere to the hospital's policy against discrimination.

Later that day, Mayor DeBlasio finally spoke about it. "We're going to send people over from the mayor's office to monitor," de Blasio said. "I am very concerned that this is done right. But if it is done right, we need all the help we can get."

Other doctors have spoken about their concerns of Samaritan’s Purse setting up in Central Park. They’ve mentioned that Samaritan’s Purse’s response to other crises, such as Ebola, was disastrous and only caused confusion and chaos.

Graham went on Sean Hannity’s FOX news show on Tuesday night to attempt to calm fears and salvage their image. "We're going to give the best health care we can to all New Yorkers, it doesn't matter who they are or what they are," he said. "We're going to give them the best medical care that we possibly can in Jesus' name."

New Yorkers shouldn’t have to worry about whether their doctors and specialists are discriminating against them, especially during this pandemic. This global virus continues to push the contradictions of imperialism and more and more working-class people are forced into a smaller and smaller corner.

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