In contrast to Texas Governor Rick Perry who was complete AWOL during the Ebola crisis in Dallas – a self-inflicted crisis caused by the incompetence of the private hospital, which probably sent Duncan home the first time because he did not have insurance – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been front and center as New York City has its first Ebola patient.,
Cuomo was charitable in commenting that Dallas’ problems were because that city was first and unprepared. Nonsense. The federal government had been preparing for weeks for the possibility that someone would arrive in the US with the Ebola virus.
But why would the Texas situation be a surprise, considering it is the state with the most uninsured, least vaccinated, and shows such a disdain for public health.
The Republicans are using Ebola as a political weapon, feigning any real concern. If they were really concerned about public health, they would have embraced the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion; would have instituted gun violence prevention measures (gun violence kills 33,000 people a year and maims tens of thousands more); would have confirmed the President’s nominee for Surgeon General, rather than blackball him for asserting that gun control is a public health issue; would not be cutting funding to the National Institutes of Health, which could have had a vaccine for Ebola by now; and to the Center for Disease Control, which is now expected to be everywhere; would be addressing the public health crisis caused by climate change and the environmental pollution of carbon emissions, which are causing thousands of deaths due to superstorms, floods, drought, air pollution.
On Friday, October 24, when all the news attention was focused on an American doctor, Dr. Spencer, who had returned from Guinea as a member of Doctors without Borders, admitted to Bellevue Hospital for Ebola, more people were killed as a result of a 15-year old going on a shooting spree at his Seattle high school, than have died in the US as a result of Ebola.
On that same day, the two Texas nurses who contracted Ebola., were declared free of the virus.
Health officials emphasize that it is very difficult to contract Ebola – you have to be in close proximity to someone who is very sick, showing symptoms, and in contact with their bodily fluids. Indeed, if it weren’t so hard to contract, there would be tens of thousands more cases than the 10,000 in West Africa, and Nigeria is now considered to have contained the virus altogether.
But gun violence is an epidemic that lawmakers show no inclination at all in stopping.
Cuomo Outlines State Response to Ebola
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took pains to outline New York State’s meticulous and textbook response to a positive test for Ebola in a patient at Bellevue Hospital in New York City – in order to ensure public health and safety and contain the disease.
Bellevue Hospital is one of the eight hospitals statewide that Governor Cuomo specially designated earlier this month to treat Ebola patients as part of the State’s Ebola Preparedness Plan. Bellevue has been prepared and equipped for the isolation, identification and treatment of Ebola patients. As part of Governor Cuomo’s Ebola Preparedness Plan, New York State health, public safety, and transportation officials have been in engaging in an ongoing series of training exercises and drills to be ready for just such a potential Ebola case.
State health officials noted that Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water – or simply by being near an infected person – so people who rode the subway that the patient rode, or rode in the Uber cab, or ate in the restaurant or went to the bowling alley he went to, or strolled the Highline Park, are not at risk.
Nonetheless, the city sent out its “medical detectives,” to retrace all his steps and reconstruct his contacts. Dr. Spencer’s fiance and two friends have been quarantined.
“As we learn about the first positive Ebola Case in New York City, I want to assure New Yorkers that we are prepared,” Governor Cuomo said. “Over the past few weeks we have undertaken a thorough and coordinated effort alongside all relevant partners, from healthcare workers to the local and federal governments, in order to implement the appropriate precautions. My thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Spencer as well as his family and friends, and I hope for his quick recovery.”
According to a press statement from the Governor’s office:
The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) is working closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The patient who tested positive has been interviewed regarding their close contacts, activities, and travel. New York State, New York City and the Federal Government are also taking steps to:
· Ensure the patient remains isolated and is receiving treatment;
· Identify, quarantine, and monitor those who had close contact with the patient;
· Ensure all medical personnel treating the patient follow appropriate protocols, including by monitoring the use of personal protective equipment; and by monitoring the health status of medical personnel who treat the patient
At Governor Cuomo’s direction, Dr. Howard Zucker, Acting Commissioner of the NYS DOH has been onsite at Bellevue monitoring the situation. In addition, NYS DOH has sent personnel to Bellevue to monitor the use of personal protective equipment to ensure that health care workers are following protocols to protect themselves.
Ebola Preparedness Plan
As part the State’s Ebola Preparedness Plan – which Governor Cuomo outlined earlier this month – New York State has been taking a series of ongoing steps to be ready for an Ebola case. New York State’s Ebola plan calls for eight hospitals statewide to handle all patients diagnosed with Ebola. Those eight hospitals which are prepared and equipped for the isolation, identification, and treatment of Ebola patients, include:
· Mt. Sinai in Manhattan
· New York Presbyterian in Manhattan
· Bellevue in Manhattan
· Montefiore in the Bronx
· North Shore/LIJ Health System in Nassau County
· Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse
· University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester
· Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island
Training for Health Care Workers: Earlier this week, the NYS DOH joined representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Greater New York Hospital Association, 1199 SEIU and the Partnership for Quality Care for an Ebola education and training session for thousands of health care workers at the Javits Center in New York City.
Commissioner’s Order: Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has issued a Commissioner’s Order to all hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, and ambulance services in New York State, requiring that they follow protocols for identification, isolation and medical evaluation of patients requiring care, and also mandating that all staff be trained in person in the practice of donning and removing personal protective equipment. The protocols are in place to ensure that New York’s hospitals can safely care for and treat patients with Ebola. The Department of Health is also providing guidance to other healthcare professionals and facilities on the proper management of people with potential exposure to Ebola.
Additional NYS Department of Health Actions: In addition to updating protocols and hosting training exercises, the Department of Health has been hosting webinars for hospitals and EMS companies on Ebola. DOH also reiterated guidance about emergency department triage and infection control and is taking steps to be sure this guidance reaches all parts of the healthcare system, including clinics, urgent care centers, and primary care. DOH regional staff – including personnel from the Office of Public Health’s Epidemiology, Infection Control, and the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management – also engaged in joint visits to hospitals and other health care settings using a standard check for things like emergency department triage, care plan, PPE, and training.
Port Authority: At JFK, in coordination with personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs and Border Protection and US Coast Guard, advanced screenings commenced using detailed questionnaires for passengers originating in three West African nations. In addition, personnel from the CDC, Customs and Border Protection and the US Public Health Service had practice drills with the Port Authority Police Department and other Federal, State and local partners for scenarios in which passengers who may have been infected with the virus are handled at JFK.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority: The MTA developed a protocol to keep its employees and customers safe. This protocol includes ensuring that at-risk employees have appropriate personal protective equipment to guard against infection and are trained in its use, as well as following best practices and recommended standards when cleaning MTA facilities. This protocol was developed in close consultation with the State Department of Health regarding symptoms and likelihood of potential exposure. The MTA has been meeting with its labor unions to discuss this protocol and to make sure it is consistent and thorough in its implementation.
Public Safety: The Governor’s Office of Public Safety is working with New York State Police, the New York State Chiefs and Sheriff’s Associations and SUNY Chiefs to coordinate field advice for police officers regarding recommended equipment and procedures to reduce chance of contamination.
And, in the wake of criticism that Dr. Spencer should not have been out and about just one week after arriving back in the US (though he apparently followed the rules from Doctors Without Borders), both New York Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced mandatory 21-day quarantine for anyone passing through the states’ airports from West Africa who had contact with Ebola-infected individuals.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
© 2014 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com or email email@example.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.