Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday joined a rising chorus of progressives demanding the city of Philadelphia seize the shuttered 500-bed Hahnemann hospital from its owner, investment banker Joel Freedman, and reopen the facility to handle the coming peak infections of the coronavirus in the city.
"The city should reopen Hahnemann hospital immediately," Sanders said in a tweet Monday at midday.
We are facing estimates of over 100,000 coronavirus deaths. It is outrageous that a Philadelphia real estate investor who closed a hospital is now trying to gouge the city to re-open it. @HelenGymPHL is right: the city should reopen Hahnemann hospital immediately. https://t.co/V08gYcxxfq— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 30, 2020
Sanders, who supported efforts to stop the hospital's closure in July 2019, including rallying with the facility's supporters, was one of a growing number of advocates calling for the city to take matters into its own hands after Freedman refused to lease the building to the city for less than $1 million a month.
"Seize it," tweeted progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon.
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On Sunday, Freedman's mansion in Philadelphia had "Joel Kills" and "Free Hahnemann" spray painted on its side.
Philadelphians were not sympathetic.
“A factual statement was spray painted on the home of Joel Freedman, a man best known for trying to extort Philadelphians for use of a hospital that is rightfully theirs” https://t.co/StIVbI643x— alyssa, from 6ft away, (@alyssakeiko) March 30, 2020
The push for using eminent domain to take the hospital and put it back online despite Freedman's demands gained a fan in normally-skepitcal-of-such-actions Esquire journalist Charlie Pierce.
"I am generally not a fan of eminent domain," Pierce wrote Monday, "but if there is a clearer case for it than this one, especially at this moment in time, I don't know what it would be."