article
October 17, 2014

2 SUNY hospitals prepared to handle Ebola if needed

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications

Eight hospitals in New York have been designated as special centers in the event of an outbreak of the Ebola virus, including SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, and SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island, according to Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

Medical professionals at New York’s 200 hospitals are being prepared to identify possible Ebola cases, Zucker reports, and patients in question would then be transferred to one of the eight hospitals.

Health care professionals at these two designated State University of New York hospitals are represented by United University Professions, a higher education union affiliate of NYSUT.  Unions have been proactive in compiling and sending out health and safety fact sheets to its health care members, and demanding vigilant hospital protocols.

Zucker also issued an order calling for immediate Department of Health compliance for hospitals, off-campus emergency departments, ambulances and funeral homes treating Ebola patients. The order states required training and personal protective equipment for health care workers; protocols for disposal of medical waste, etc. Read the full order here:

Order for Summary Action - In the Matter of the Prevention and Control of Ebola Virus Disease (pdf)

“This order is important to our members in health care facilities because it requires their employers to immediately institute policies and practices that are key to protecting them if a patient with suspected Ebola infection comes to their facility,” said Wendy Hord, NYSUT health and safety specialist. Hord continued: “It requires in-person instruction on how to put on and take off personal protection equipment. New York has thankfully responded to the voices of health care workers, who have been explaining that just issuing a memo or a video is totally inadequate to ensure workers will be protected from exposure.”

State officials have also said they would work with schools and colleges to protect students from exposure to the virus. Some students at universities are from West Africa or travel there.

The American Federation of Teachers wants to hear from teachers and School-Related Professionals about how their district is responding. Contact AFT at Health&Safety@aft.org or call 800-238-1133 ext.5874. AFT’s department of health, safety and well-being will provide a basic fact sheet and updates.