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Straight No Chaser: An Open Letter to Jordan Health CEO Dr. Janice Harbin

Gloria Winston

Dear Dr. Harbin,

Thank you for sending me your letter addressed to the community. I now better understand your position and that of your Board of Directors; but, simply disagree with this impasse with Local 1199 being dragged out and unresolved to date.

The letter was not dated so I was left to assume it was written as a result of my attempts to talk with you personally about the ongoing dispute with Local Union 1199 and Jordan Health Center. To be honest I was almost offended when my request to talk to you was relegated to your door-keeper/secretary—did you feel you were too important to talk to me? In all fairness, I was just trying to understand what is going on; I am concerned.

I’m concerned about what is going on at Jordan Health Center and whether you may want to reexamine the advice of those advising you to ignore the recommendations of the federal mediator.—if you know what I know about folks with power in this community… I would hate to see you on the receiving end of a search and destroy mission.

My concern is one of a personal nature for me. I have watched from a distance as pleas from community leaders and politicians to end this matter are ignored. But, I’m wondering if there is a more pressing underlying matter.—Are we in jeopardy of losing Jordan Health Center?

I have not examined your budget like an auditor; but, I get more concerned when politicians and those who handle the allocation of money are ignored. It is my understanding that several high profile politicians has appealed to you and the Board to end this dispute.

I don’t know if you are thoroughly familiar with the tendency for folks in this community to put targets on other people backs when what some considered sound advice is ignore. You may not know where you live and how dangerous the position that you and/or the Board have taken that can ultimately result in Jordan Health Center closing their doors. That is not something anyone wants, I am sure. I am not trying to be an alarmist, just a realist, familiar with the games people play in this community.

As a Rochesterian—one who was raised in this community—I may be more than familiar with the history of Jordan Health Center than most. When folks come into this community from elsewhere and assume leadership roles, achieving a level of sensitivity and correct historical perspective sometimes gets overlooked or goes missing in their decision making process..

I am not saying that is the case because you hail from Detroit, but I felt the need to approach my concerns regarding the impasse by looking at the big picture. I have a deep rooted and personal respect for the life and legacy of Dr. Anthony L. Jordan as well. We don’t have enough institutions in this community that recognize the contributions of Black men and it concerns me that we may be risking closing the doors of such an important facility.

I am not only familiar with Jordan Health Center’s humble beginnings in the projects under the leadership of Lena Gantt and others; I was a neighbor and personal friend of the Jordan family. I was raised living next door to Dr. Jordan on Adams Street. He was our family Doctor. He was one of a dying breed that actually made house calls. I also was a babysitter to two of his grandchildren. I named one of my sons after his grandson Michael Dean Jordan. My concerns for what is transpiring now run deep.

When it comes to Unions, I am far from being an objective person. Being raised to be pro-union is one of the reasons I did not come to your anniversary celebration to see the Temptations—because I don’t cross picket lines. As a former Shop Steward for CSEA back in the day, I am from a culture that respects the work unions have done for many families who may have suffered and never received protection or a fair wage or been mistreated.

However, in looking at the long term impact and the position you have taken I just wanted to appeal to you to reconsider the path you and the Board are on.

The letters you have revived form politicians like United State Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, City Council members Michael Patterson and Adam McFadden, Council President Loretta Scott, Mayor Lovely Warren, Assembly member Harry Bronson, Assembly majority leader, Joe Morelle and former Board member Father Laurence Tracy should be reexamined and reconsidered.

I imagine that Jordan relies 100% on client contributions and grants to pay its bills. Maybe Jordan doesn’t need monies from the city, State and/or federal government—but I doubt that is the case.

Dwight Eisenhower said in 1952 “Politics is everything and everything is politics” All politicians I know have big egos and long memories and do not take the time to write letters just to be ignored; so, please pay attention!

Dr. Harbin, I don’t know you that well but I have always considered you to be a kind, capable person with a heart of gold. I just happen to think you and your Board of Directors are on the wrong side of this issue.

The community depends on Jordan for Services; and those employed there would like to continue their employment as well. Please reconsider your position because in the long run, losing Jordan Health Center would be more than devastating to this community. That may never happen but I felt the need to say it!


Gloria Winston

Gloria Winston is a Community Activist, Writer, Communicator, and Political Activist. She is a native Rochesterian and has been involved with numerous community organizations in Rochester. Contact Gloria at:

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(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)