Health professionals are urging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to intervene in the controversy over Dyett High School so the hunger strike over the school's future can end.
Nearly 20 health organizations and professionals, including Linda Rae Murray*, former chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, have signed onto a letter urging Emanuel to take action.
"Please exert your leadership and demonstrate your compassion by intervening in what is an increasingly dangerous health emergency," the letter says.
Twelve supporters of revitalizing Dyett High School are in the eleventh day of their hunger strike. According to the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, two hunger strikers have required hospitalization.
The Chicago parents and school activists who have abstained from eating are calling for the Chicago Public Schools to adopt a long-proposed, community-developed plan to convert Dyett, which closed this past school year after being slated for phase out in 2012, into a global leadership and green technology high school.
The health professionals are scheduled to speak at a press conference this morning over their concerns about the health of the hunger strikers and to urge Emanuel to accept the coalition's green tech plan for Dyett.
Here's text of the letter:
Dear Mayor Emanuel:
We are physicians, nurses and other health care professionals working in the City of Chicago. Many of us have visited the hunger strikers camped outside of Dyett High School for nearly a week.
We write to you to express our support for the just cause around which our fellow Chicagoans have rallied, and to register deep concern as medical professionals about the deteriorating state of their health as individuals. As you must know, the longer this protest continues, each of the twelve hunger strikers is vulnerable to a variety of conditions that compromise their overall well-being and may result in permanent damage to their health. None of us want this. We trust you share our deep concern about this very serious situation.
The parents and grandparents, friends and relatives of Dyett students have turned to this tactic as a last resort. We implore you to hear their concerns and give serious consideration to their proposal to preserve the integrity of Dyett High School as a public, open-enrollment high school in the heart of the historic Bronzeville neighborhood. They have a proposal on the table for the Dyett High School of Global Leadership and Green Technology. We urge you to accept it.
We consider the current situation to be a deepening health care emergency in our city. It is one that you can abate by reaching out to the strikers, entertaining their grievances and accepting their proposal.
Please exert your leadership and demonstrate your compassion by intervening in what is an increasingly dangerous health emergency. As doctors and nurses who have treated gun shot victims, terminally ill patients, and even children who we have lost all too soon to injury and disease, we feel we have to speak out as loudly as possible in this instance where the health of community leaders is at stake and further damage to their health is preventable. This is a serious situation. Please intervene now. We are counting on you to do the right thing.
Linda Rae Murray, MD
Susan Avila RN
Peter Orris MD MPH
Rachel Rubin MD MPH
Peter Sporn MD Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Richard Stephenson MD
Susan Rogers MD
Cynthia Henderson MD MPH
Peter Drapper MD
Bob Cohen, MD Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and UIC School of Public Health.
Arsh Kaur Dhaliwal MD
Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD
Nurses for Social Justice and Clinical Associate Professor, College of Nursing at University of Illinois @ Chicago
Erin Raether, RN - Nurses for Social Justice, Chicago Healing Justice Network Deborah Sontag, Family Nurse Practitioner
Ruth Oppenheim-Rothschild, RN Nurses for Social Justice Wendy Mironov, RN, NSJ
Mary Bowm, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC
National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United
Click through for more on the Dyett hunger strike. Progress Illinois' past coverage of the coalition's push for its global leadership and green technology plan for Dyett can be found here.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Linda Rae Murray was the current chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health. She is retired.