msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell visited Staten Island University Hospital Friday to speak to doctors and hospital staff at morning rounds, after a Staten Island Rewrite on The Last Word became a source of pride in the often-overlooked NYC borough.
O’Donnell has been an advocate for Staten Island since Hurricane Sandy devastated much of its shoreline in early November. He visited the island shortly after the storm to survey the damage and ongoing relief efforts, which were largely organized by locals in the community.
In a Last Word Rewrite segment on Nov. 1, O’Donnell spoke about the hardy spirit of Staten Island, emphasizing that most New Yorkers know very little about the city’s largest borough by geographic size:
“To see Staten Island—all of it,” he said, “would be to rewrite your understanding of New York City. It is the place in New York City where wild deer run across roadways. It is not the New York you know. It is a place apart from New York City, five miles over the water on the ferry from Manhattan—and, in many ways, it might as well be a world away. Staten Island has almost everything that the rest of New York City has except skyscrapers. But it has much more.”
O’Donnell went on to plead for state and national assistance, saying that, for once, “Staten Island doesn’t want to be ignored. Tonight, for once, Staten Island needs help from City Hall. But Staten Island needs more than New York’s help. Staten Island now needs America’s help.”
According to New York Assemblyman Michael Cusick, who represents District 63 in Staten Island, the Rewrite was passed around the borough virally and became a source of dignity for many who were experiencing hardship. At Staten Island University Hospital, the segment was shown at the emergency command center to doctors dealing with a large influx of patients and who had gone without sleep for many hours.
Staten Island University Hospital President Anthony Fererri wrote O’Donnell and invited him to speak at the hospital’s grand rounds. ”I’m just here to say thank you to you,” O’Donnell said in his remarks, “Because I have a sense—an imperfect sense—of how bad things were here, but what I know for an absolute fact is that it would have been much much worse with you, indescribably worse without you. You will never be thanked enough.”
The video above shows O’Donnell’s speech to the hospital staff in full. And here’s is the original Rewrite segment, which aired on Nov. 1:
And here is Lawrence O’Donnell’s first visit to Staten Island after the storm: