It was early
dawn on July 17, 1970 when about 100 young men and women entered
through the windows and doors of Lincoln Hospital in New York
City and literally took it over. They met no resistance from
the staff and were heartily welcomed by the patients. They were
representatives of a community fed up with the disgraceful neglect
by city government of the health of its citizens. The Young Lords
decided that enough was enough. If things were to change, they
would have to do the changing.
Lincoln Hospital takeover was the Young Lords' third major
it came just 12 days before the group's one-year anniversary.
The incidents that led up to this action could, and still
can, be seen in almost any inner-city hospital. Lincoln Hospital
was the only major health institution that served the large
South Bronx community of Puerto Ricans and African Americans.
The hospital, which was run by the Albert Einstein Medical
College, was more preoccupied with the testing of new medical
equipment, training of medical students, and continued payment
of the city government for running the health center than
with helping patients. The community faced large instances
of lead poison, tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma. Patients
were not getting the care they needed and were kept completely
misinformed, or not informed at all, by doctors.
conditions most of the people in the Bronx area were just as
bad. Aside from the health hazards created by old and decrepit
buildings not taken care of by their landlords, the cheap paint
used by greedy owners eventually caused lead poisoning in a large
percent of the inhabitants. Lack of heat also complicated matters
and was a primary cause of pneumonia and asthma. All these problems
existed, and Lincoln Hospital did nothing.
The Young Lords and
a group called the HRUM, Health Revolutionary Unity Movement
established a ten point health programcalling for, among other
things, community-worker control health institutions, lead
poison and anemia testing, and day care centers. The Young
Lords also received and reported to the city government hundreds
of complaints directed at the Lincoln Hospital facilities.
Since the hospital failed to respond, the group decided to
take stronger measures. If the city and the staff were not
going to help the sick, then the Young Lords believed it was
up to the community to do so.
the early morning hours of July 14, 1970, the Young Lords and
a patient-worker group called Think Lincoln Committee took
over Lincoln Hospital. During the twenty-four hour takeover,
the Young Lords ran health programs in a building the hospital
was not even using. There, they held TB and lead poison detection
and set up a day care center that would later be put to service.
Eventually, the police surrounded the hospital and the Young
Lords left peacefully. The offensive exposed the terrible conditions
seen in inner-city hospitals. The building Lincoln Hospital
was in had been condemned by the city twenty years before and
nothing had been done. To address this problem, the group got
a promise from then Mayor John Lindsay to construct a new hospital
on East 149th Street.
the end, the takeover of Lincoln Hospital was a victory for