California | LAFD announces launch of FireStatLA and online publication of response data

Fire Department Chief Ralph M. Terrazas, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mitchell Englander, and Dr. Craig Uchida, president of Justice & Security Strategies Inc., today announced the formal launch of FireStatLA and the online publication of LAFD response data.

As part of the effort to increase the use of data and quantifiable metrics throughout the Department, the LAFD’s FireStatLA Unit was created earlier this year. In May 2014, initial pilot phase FireStatLA meetings were held with battalion chiefs and station commanders and by year’s end every battalion on all three platoon-duty shifts is on track to have completed at least one FireStatLA meeting. During this pilot phase, the Department evaluates four metrics: two response time-related criteria and the location of frequent fire false alarm and emergency medical service calls in each battalion.

“FireStatLA is more than simply data and this is only the beginning of the effort,” said Chief Terrazas. “It’s a leadership and management strategy designed to quantify and evaluate the performance of our fire and EMS units at the station, battalion and Department level.”

“FireStatLA is a signature element of my work to reform the fire department and reduce response times,” Mayor Garcetti said. “FireStatLA combines the experience and expertise of our firefighters with cutting edge data analysis. Combined with intensive data analysis, FireStat is aimed at increasing accountability, improving decision making and better allocating resources, with the primary goal of improving response times – which, in turn, helps us better fulfill our mission of saving lives and protecting property. My back to basics agenda is about making sure city government is focused on those services that matter most to our neighborhoods, so providing the best possible fire and paramedic service to the people of Los Angeles is at the top of our list.”

Councilmember Englander originally introduced a motion in City Council to create FireStatLA in February 2012. “When I authored the FireStatLA motion, I was optimistic that if implemented it would change the way the Fire Department communicates and allocates resources,” said the Councilmember, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee. “The results to date have exceeded my expectations.”

The LAFD today also published a trove of response data on its website. These data are available at LAFD.org/performance and includes Citywide information, as well as response information for 102 individual LAFD neighborhood fire stations. The LAFD is one of the only fire departments in the nation now publicly offering this level of response data detail.

The response data range from January 2013 to September 2014 and were originally analyzed by the Department’s new FireStatLA unit. The times were then validated by two external organizations, Palo-Alto, Calif.,-based consultancy Palantir and Dr. Craig Uchida’s team at JSS. This triple validation was performed in order to ensure the accuracy of the methodology and parameters used to obtain response data results.

“The reports that are posted and the data that are available have gone through a rigorous validation process,” said Dr. Uchida. “We are confident that they are accurate and reliable.”

Additionally, the raw data used to calculate these parameters have been posted to the City’s Open Data website at data.lacity.org. More than 2.1 million individual response records from January 2013 to September 2014 have been posted to the site in a spreadsheet format that will allow the data to be downloaded and processed by the public.

The calculated response data on LAFD.org will be updated monthly, while the raw data spreadsheet will be updated quarterly.

Chief Terrazas added: “As we move forward, I am confident that the use of data in these ways will be a critical tool as we constantly evaluate and continually strive to improve the Los Angeles Fire Department.”

California | Dept of Public Health establishes Ebola hotline

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has established an Ebola hotline call center to respond to public inquiries related to Ebola it was announced today by Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and state health officer.

“This hotline has been set up and staffed to answer questions from those concerned about the possibility of Ebola in California,” said Chapman. “Our goal is to be available to eliminate the mystery of this disease and offer the facts to Californians as the situation evolves. This is one in a series of steps we have taken in the last few months.”

The hotline, 855-421-5921 will be in operation from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in California and no suspect cases.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, CDPH has worked with state, federal and local health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California. In August, CDPH launched an informational website compiling information about the outbreak and preparing California health care providers with guidance and protocols from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDPH has developed an interim case report form for reporting suspected cases of Ebola to CDPH and has distributed CDC guidance on specimen collection, transport, testing and submission for patients suspected of having Ebola. Last week, CDPH posted interim guidelines for Ebola medical waste management and recommended that all health care facility environmental services personnel and infection control staff work together to develop facility-specific protocols for safe handling of Ebola related medical waste. CDPH has provided these and other documents to health care providers and partners via the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN).

In September, CDPH convened more 1,100 health care and public health workers to urge them to assess their Ebola readiness and conduct drills in their facilities. Last week, CDPH officials held a teleconference with health care providers to discuss the latest news and guidance about handling suspected Ebola cases. CDPH is providing weekly updates to local health officials, first responders and health care providers as the Ebola outbreak continues in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. CDPH joins with a team of state departments and agencies including: California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), to address all aspects of preparedness for a potential Ebola case in California.

CDPH is also available to provide consultation about suspect Ebola cases to local health departments and health care providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information about how the state is preparing for potential cases of Ebola, please read CDPH’s Ebola Virus Disease FAQs and visit the CDPH Ebola Virus Information Page and the Cal/OSHA Ebola Virus Information site.

California | University of california Medical Centers identified as priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases

Though there are no confirmed or suspect cases of Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) in California, today the University of California Office of the President informed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that all five UC Medical Centers are positioned to provide in-patient care for Californians who have confirmed cases of Ebola if necessary.

CDPH continues working with health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is providing updated, specific guidelines on the protective equipment, training and other measures that must be in place to protect workers’ health and safety.

“All of the UC Medical Centers specialize in complex care and operate as or staff level one trauma centers. We appreciate their leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients,” said Dr. Ron Chapman director of CDPH and state health officer. “The administration will support these hospitals in meeting this public health need in California. At the same time all hospitals and medical providers need to redouble preparedness efforts to ensure that they can effectively assess Ebola risk in their patients, while ensuring workplace safety.”

“As part of a public university, UC’s medical centers are far along in their preparation activities and are willing to care for confirmed Ebola patients,” said Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services. “Stepping up to a public health crisis is what these medical centers do, and in the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola. We are committed to addressing the health needs of this population and the public at large, as well as ensuring the safety of our health care workers. It is our intent that only health care workers who are members of a core designated group or who volunteer to do so will provide care to confirmed Ebola patients.”

The UC Medical Centers identified today include the Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco facilities.  These hospitals will closely coordinate with CDPH and local health officers as they consider taking on such patients. Today’s announcement means that the UC Medical Centers are positioned to accept patients in California with confirmed cases of Ebola. They are not identified as treatment centers for patients being transported into the United States by the U.S. State Department. Four hospitals in other parts of the country are already established as treatment centers for these repatriated U.S. citizens.

CDPH has been reviewing Ebola preparedness, screening and treatment guidance from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will ensure that the UC Medical Centers have the most up-to-date information on how to treat and care for Ebola patients, should confirmed Ebola cases appear in California.

The UC Medical Centers, like all health care facilities in California, are required to comply with standards set by Cal/OSHA to ensure that appropriate protective equipment, training and other measures are in place to protect worker health and safety while caring for Ebola patients. Cal/OSHA is developing updated guidance and compliance requirements specifically identifying what measures are adequate—and inadequate—to comply with California’s workplace health and safety legal requirement, based on CDC’s recent strengthening of clinical guidance for Ebola treatment. Cal/OSHA will also provide on-site consultation for these medical centers to help them meet the established occupational health and safety standards.

CDPH has also committed to helping the five identified medical centers obtain the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), should the hospitals have sourcing challenges. CDC recently updated the PPE guidance, aligning them with California’s stronger standards. State officials will also work with these medical centers to ensure that medical waste generated from the treatment of an Ebola patient will be properly handled and disposed.

All hospitals throughout the state are expected to screen, identify and isolate any patients with Ebola risk. Screening questions include:  “Has the patient recently been in one of the three countries with Ebola outbreaks: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea?”; and “Has the patient been in direct contact with someone known to have Ebola or someone exposed to Ebola?” If further testing of the patient is recommended, the hospital will contact the local health department, which will provide a more detailed epidemiological assessment.  If necessary, the local health officer will then coordinate with CDPH and CDC to pursue testing at CDC-approved laboratories. During that time, the patient should remain in isolation until the test results are available. If test results are positive, CDPH will work with the hospital, local health officers and the CDC to transfer the patient as needed.

CDPH remains in contact with hospitals and health care professionals throughout the state to monitor and strengthen medical preparedness and Cal/OSHA will be working with hospitals to provide compliance assistance on required workplace safety standards. Other hospitals will likely be identified as additional priority hospitals for Ebola treatment.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, CDPH has worked with state, federal and local health officials to prepare for potential cases of Ebola in California. In August, CDPH launched an informational website compiling information about the outbreak and preparing California health care providers with guidance and protocols from the CDC. CDPH has developed an interim case report form for reporting suspected cases of Ebola to CDPH and has distributed CDC guidance on specimen collection, transport, testing and submission for patients suspected of having Ebola. Last week, CDPH posted interim guidelines for Ebola medical waste management and recommended that all health care facility environmental services personnel and infection control staff work together to develop facility-specific protocols for safe handling of Ebola related medical waste. CDPH has provided these and other documents to health care providers and partners via the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN).

In September, CDPH convened more than 1,100 health care and public health workers to urge them to assess their Ebola readiness and conduct drills in their facilities. Last week, CDPH officials held a teleconference with health care providers to discuss the latest news and guidance about handling suspected Ebola cases. CDPH is providing weekly updates to local health officials, first responders and health care providers as the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa. CDPH launched a telephone hotline call center to respond to public inquiries related to Ebola. Earlier this week, Governor Brown joined officials from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), CDPH, Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Cal/OSHA to meet with California hospital leaders, nurses, emergency responders, local health directors and medical providers.

CDPH is also available to provide consultation about suspect Ebola cases to local health departments and health care providers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. CDPH joins with a team of state departments and agencies including CHHS, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and DIR, to address all aspects of preparedness for a potential Ebola case in California.

For more information about how the state is preparing for potential cases of Ebola, please read CDPH’s Ebola Virus Disease FAQs and visit the CDPH Ebola Virus Information Page and the Cal/OSHA Ebola Virus Information site.

Wisconsin | State launches Ebola information line

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) today announced that in addition to the information available on the DHS website (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov), a toll free line is now available for state residents with questions about the Ebola virus. Residents can dial 1-844-684-1064, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The calls are free, confidential, and multi-lingual.

“Though Ebola has not been diagnosed in Wisconsin, and the chances of getting it remain extremely low, we understand that people are concerned and have questions about the disease,” said Karen McKeown, State Health Officer. “Our website and this new toll free line are helpful resources that provide Wisconsin residents with information about Ebola, and Wisconsin’s preparedness and prevention efforts.”

DHS has partnered with 2-1-1 Wisconsin to establish the information line.

For more information about Ebola and Wisconsin’s preparedness efforts, visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/diseasepages/ebola.htm

Minnesota | Hospitals identify strategy for Ebola care

The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) announced today that hospitals and health systems from around the state have developed a coordinated strategy to care for Ebola patients in Minnesota.

Under the plan, all hospitals in the state will continue to be prepared to detect, isolate and initially care for suspected Ebola patients. Should a case of Ebola be identified, the patient will be treated at one of four designated hospitals:

  • University of Minnesota Medical Center, West Bank Campus, Minneapolis
  • Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester, Saint Marys Campus
  • Allina Health’s Unity Hospital in Fridley
  • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota – St. Paul campus

“Hospitals have a responsibility to care for our communities and these hospitals stand ready to take a patient today,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger. “Minnesota’s hospitals have worked in a collaborative fashion to ensure a system is in place to handle anything that could happen and the Minnesota Department of Health will work with them closely.”

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are approaching Ebola with the same kind of collaborative, coordinated approach that has earned Minnesota’s national reputation for health care leadership and excellence year after year,” said Minnesota Hospital Association President and CEO Lawrence Massa. In particular, Massa pointed to Minnesota hospitals’ collective commitment to implement a plan that “puts the patient’s needs first and then builds our collective response and preparations from there, including using the protocols and precautions necessary to ensure the best outcomes for the patient and the safety of the caregivers who treat the patient.”

Minnesota’s plan is being implemented in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the state’s health systems and hospitals, emergency transportation providers, and other health care stakeholders to ensure that the statewide referral and transportation plans are coordinated and seamless if a patient with Ebola needs care in Minnesota. The plan provides the best opportunity to treat Ebola patients and ensures the state’s Level I trauma centers can continue to serve the region’s trauma care needs. In addition, the state would be in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about whether a patient should be transferred to one of the four federal biocontainment facilities.

Ensuring that health care workers are safe and prepared to treat patients with Ebola is a top priority. For many weeks, Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems have been preparing for the possibility of a patient with Ebola in our communities. Preparations have included training and drilling caregivers and staff on how to deliver optimal care safely; communicating and coordinating efforts with MDH, MHA and other health care providers; planning for how a patient would be transported to appropriate and available care settings as needed; evaluating facilities for appropriate isolation space; and ensuring that the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies are available.

In addition, Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems have closely followed updates to the CDC protocols and adjusted their planning and preparations, including use of PPE and staff training and drills, accordingly. The plan will evolve as necessary to ensure the most efficient use of personnel and resources.

“I am confident that Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are ready,” said Massa. “We have trained and prepared for these kinds of situations. We have faced similar situations and responded just as Minnesotans would expect: with compassion and professionalism.”

Illinois | Ebola Task Force to provide expert guidance to the state

Governor Pat Quinn today announced a task force that will help ensure the public health system across Illinois is prepared for the Ebola virus. The task force was established through Executive Order with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and includes members representing health care, local public health, emergency responders, the Illinois State Board of Health, state agencies and others to further strengthen our ability to respond to Ebola. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect the health of the people of Illinois.

“We have learned that the best way to address the Ebola virus is to educate ourselves and know the facts,” Governor Quinn said. “I have directed IDPH to assemble a task force of experts that can lead a coordinated effort to ensure everyone in Illinois receives timely and accurate information regarding any potential threat. While we have no confirmed cases, the state will take every safeguard to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois.”

Two travelers – an adult and child who are not related – who arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport yesterday are under medical evaluation following newly-established safety protocols at Chicago area hospitals and airports. The adult patient has shown no signs or symptoms of Ebola virus disease and is no longer in isolation but will continue to be monitored by hospital officials.

Though improvements have been seen, the child patient – as a result of dehydration and as an extra step of precaution – will be tested for the Ebola virus. The patient maintains a normal temperature and shows no symptoms other than one reported case of vomiting and dehydration. The IDPH laboratory will conduct the preliminary testing while another specimen is sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.

These measures, along with steps the state and city of Chicago are taking, will help ensure the public health department is prepared in case of Ebola affecting anyone in Illinois. Last week IDPH launched an informational hotline where residents can call 1-800-889-3931 with questions or concerns regarding the Ebola virus. IDPH will continue to provide all updated CDC guidance through SIREN (State of Illinois Rapid Electronic Notification) to appropriate audiences (infection control professionals, infectious disease physicians, laboratories, local health departments, health care providers, health care facilities, EMS systems).

The advisory task force will help ensure a coordinated effort to communicate with the public and in reporting any situation that involves testing for Ebola. The task force will facilitate communication and information sharing, assist in designating treatment centers and assess our readiness and response as needed.

IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck and Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas will co-chair the task force whose members include:

Trish Anen
Vice President, Clinical Services, MCHC

Bechara Choucair, M.D.
Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

Beth Fiorini
President, Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators (IAPHA)

John Flaherty, M.D.
Professor in Medicine-Infectious Diseases, Northwestern University

Kiran Joshi, M.D., MPH
Senior Medical Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health

Richard M. Novak, M.D.
Division Chief, Infectious Diseases, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System

Javette C. Orgain, M.D., MPH
Chair, State Board of Health (SBOH)

Pat Schou, FACHE
Executive Director, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN)

Susan Y. Swart, MS, RN, CAE
Executive Director, ANA-Illinois & Illinois Nurses Foundation

Alexander Tomich, DNP, RN, CIC
Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Rush University Medical Center

Michael Wahl, M.D.
Director/Medical Director, Illinois Poison Center/MCHC

Stephen Weber, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, Infectious Disease, The University of Chicago Medicine

Maryjane A. Wurth
President & Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Hospital Association

“Protecting the public from illness and disease is a core public health function and we work continuously with our partners to be prepared to handle any threat to the public,” IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “By establishing this task force we can bring key partners to the table to provide input and help us to ensure residents and hospitals across the state are informed and prepared to address Ebola.”

The state is prepared to search for possible cases, implement infection control measures, support medical facilities, perform contact tracing and conduct laboratory testing. IDPH will continue to work with the CDC, local health departments, hospitals and medical facilities.

Preparedness steps IDPH has taken to prepare for a suspect or confirmed Ebola case in Illinois:

  • Provided guidance to medical providers on identifying, evaluating and testing patients.
  • Tested established public health systems to ensure contact tracing is readily available.
  • Created Ebola.illinois.gov with information for IDPH health care partners.
  • Established an Ebola informational hotline: 1-800-889-3931.
  • Completed a CDC online assessment of our emergency preparedness and response activities related to Ebola.
  • Convened conference calls with health departments and hospitals across Illinois.

For the most up to date information visit: Ebola.illinois.gov.

Kansas | State agencies take steps to prepare for Ebola

At the direction of Governor Sam Brownback, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is working diligently with public health officials and hospitals across the state to ensure a swift and effective response in the event of a case of Ebola in Kansas. Kansas has had no confirmed cases of Ebola at this time.

“I am very concerned about the number of Ebola cases that have developed in the U.S. in just a few short weeks,” said Governor Brownback. “I have instructed KDHE to develop a plan for Kansas that includes stronger rules on protective gear and isolation. These rules go beyond what the CDC currently recommends as we work to protect Kansans. I have tasked KDHE and other state agencies to devote whatever resources are necessary to protect Kansans in the event of any possible Ebola case in the state.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the healthcare system in Kansas began preparing for Ebola many weeks prior to its appearance in the U.S.

“We developed the Kansas Ebola Virus Preparedness and Response Plan in August, and began working closely with local health departments and hospitals across the state on how to properly manage a case of Ebola,” said Dr. Robert Moser, Secretary of KDHE and State Health Officer. “We are working with health officials statewide to assess the needs of our healthcare community and provide them with the resources and guidance they need.”

In addition, the Governor has ordered additional actions and resources be made available in the event of an actual case of Ebola in Kansas, including:

  • Directing the state to create a special response team that would respond quickly to any suspected Ebola case in the state.
  • Identifying $4 million that could be used in the event of an emergency.
  • Calling on the federal government to provide an emergency clean-up team and federal disposal of Ebola-related waste.

“The goal of all these actions is to protect Kansans and the integrity of our healthcare system across the state,” said Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. “With the flu season upon us, I urge Kansans to get a flu shot and minimize the number of people coming to hospitals with these symptoms.”

KDHE will continue monitoring the situation carefully and working with the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department and Kansas Division of Emergency Management, responsible for assisting state and local government through the coordination of resources as outlined in the Kansas Response Plan, and for leading the state’s overall emergency response planning efforts.

KDHE encourages all Kansans to become informed about Ebola by going to www.kdheks.gov/ebola and www.cdc.gov/ebola. The websites are updated frequently with new information.

New York | Governor outlines State response to Ebola case in NYC

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today outlined New York State’s 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.

“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.”

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.

New Hampshire | Deputy State epidemiologist to travel to Liberia to train clinical teams in fight against Ebola

Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the announcement that Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Human Services and infectious disease doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, will travel to Liberia to train clinical teams in protecting against infection from Ebola:

“Dr. Elizabeth Talbot is incredibly talented and will help save lives by training clinical teams in Liberia. Like Brigadier General Peter Corey, who is also working against Ebola in West Africa, she represents the talent and humanitarian spirit that define the Granite State, and the people of New Hampshire are proud of Brigadier General Corey and Dr. Talbot for their service to help combat the crisis in West Africa.

“In Dr. Talbot’s absence, state and local public health and emergency management officials will continue to work closely with health care providers in order to ensure effective response plans, and the Division of Public Health Services will manage her reentry with three weeks of follow up upon her return to New Hampshire.

“The threat of an outbreak remains low, and the state will continue to coordinate with local governments and health care providers that to ensure that we are prepared to protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

Maine | New Ebola website launched

In ongoing efforts to provide the latest information to healthcare providers and Maine citizens regarding guideline updates and developments regarding preparedness and response to potential suspected cases of Ebola, the Maine Center for Disease Control announced the launch of a new website, http://www.maine.gov/ebola .

The publicly facing website includes descriptions of Ebola, how it is transmitted and other important information about the disease. Easy-to-understand fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions are also available and can be downloaded.

The pages for healthcare providers offer the latest in U.S. CDC guidance on a variety of topics and will serve as a repository of information for those organizations and their staff as well as first responders. Maine CDC’s Health Alert Network can also be accessed from this site.

“It is important for Mainers to know that there are no cases of Ebola in our state and that the only way Ebola can be transmitted is when an individual has direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a person who is showing symptoms. It is not an airborne disease,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The website will be updated regularly, Dr. Pinette said, keeping the public informed.

“We encourage healthcare providers and the public to refer to this website for valuable information and guidance from the U.S. CDC,” she said. “The best way for each and every person to stay prepared is to be informed.”

Be well. Practice big medicine.