Cuomo outlines New York State’s Ebola plan
Eight hospitals to be first responders: Four in NYC, two in Long Island
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials outlined a statewide Ebola preparedness plan at a press conference on Thursday.
Cuomo said eight hospitals across the state were chosen as Ebola first responders. Four of the hospitals are located in New York City, and two in Long Island.
“We’re trying to train the entire system, but we’re developing specialized capacity. Over 200 hospitals in the state have to be prepared, but we’ve identified eight hospitals that have been receiving intensive training,” Cuomo said.
“The same with the MTA and the Port Authority,” he added. “All employees will be trained, but specialized units will receive intensive training.”
The eight hospitals include three in Manhattan (Mt. Sinai, New York Presbyterian, Bellevue), one in the Bronx (Montefiore), two on Long Island (North Shore/LIJ Health System, SUNY’s Stony Brook University Hospital), one in Syracuse (SUNY Upstate University Hospital) and one in Rochester (University of Rochester Medical Center).
Cuomo said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ebola appeared in the state — but that in making advance preparations he was “erring on the side of caution.”
“Rather than the alternative, which is we’re unprepared. We want to be cautious, but we also want to keep perspective. There’s no reason for undue panic. This state is probably the best prepared in the nation” in terms of resources and infrastructure, he said.
According to the state Department of Health, there has not yet been a confirmed case of Ebola in New York City.
MTA, Port Authority develop plans
Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, which has jurisdiction over airports, said the organization had convened the Port Authority Pandemic Work Group to coordinate with international airports and share best practices. Upstate airports will work with the MTA and the Port Authority, along with the federal government and the CDC.
When asked by reporters if the state could bar entry to flights from Ebola-affected areas in Africa, Cuomo pointed out that only the federal government could ban these flights. “The president said that’s an issue he’s looking at. It can’t be done on the state level.”
Foye said there are no direct flights from the affected African nations to New York City. “They all go through Brussels and Paris.”
Tom Prendergast, chair and CEO of the MTA, said the agency has received the Department of Health’s okay for its protocols to remove infectious waste and clean buses and trains. These include isolating areas where waste is found and the proper use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
“We’ve met with the labor unions to ensure effective implementation” of the protocols, he said.
Dr. Howard Zucker, acting commissioner of the state Department of Health, recommended that New York residents get flu shots, since the symptoms resemble the early stages of Ebola.
“Good public health is what we’re always looking at. Wash your hands, get your flu shot.”
In response to a question from a reporter, he agreed that carrying alcohol-based hand wipes was a good idea.
Zucker said DOH would work with the NYC Department of Education in the case of sick children and cooperate to “identify all contacts.”
In a separate release, the state said that Zucker has issued a Commissioner’s Order to all hospitals, 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.”
Next week, the State Department of Health will join 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 session for health care workers. The training will take place on Tuesday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Javits Center in New York City.
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