Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian charity that had been operating a field hospital in Central Park, is preparing to leave New York City.
Its scheduled closure comes as New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a stalwart cheerleader against the charity, lambasted the leader of Samaritan’s Purse, the Rev. Franklin Graham, as “notoriously bigoted” and “hate-spewing.”
The North Carolina-based humanitarian organization set up an emergency hospital in early April, when the city was nearing its peak in COVID-19 diagnoses. In total, the group served more than 300 patients.
On Saturday, leaders with the Mount Sinai Health System announced they were phasing out the Samaritan’s Purse station that relieved the strain on hospitals as New York City quickly became the global epicenter of the pandemic.
In a statement issued Friday, Mount Sinai said the number of hospital admissions was “reaching manageable levels,” adding it will take approximately two weeks to treat the remaining eight patients in the Samaritan’s Purse hospital. After they have been released, the group will “decontaminate and remove the tents” in Central Park.
Johnson, for his part, issued his own message Friday.
“It is time for Samaritan’s Purse to leave New York City,” Johnson wrote in a statement. “This group, which is led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer to help.”
“That time has passed,” he continued. “Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community.”
Another New York lawmaker, state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D), is angry Mount Sinai partnered with Samaritan’s Purse.
He referred to Graham as “homophobic” and said the medical system’s “poisonous relationship” with Samaritan’s Purse needed to end.
Earlier on in the forced controversy, New York City-based writer Jonathan Merritt penned a column sympathizing with those who were angry to see Samaritan’s Purse in the city. Johnson, in fact, didn’t even want the Christian charity there when the city needed the help.
Graham quickly nipped that in the bud.
Samaritan’s Purse is slated to be fully out of Central Park by the end of the week, as long as its remaining patients have been discharged.
This story has been revised with updated information.