Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has issued a Commissioner's order to all hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers and ambulances in New York State, requiring that they follow protocols for identification, isolation and medical evaluation of patients requiring care. The order mandates that all staff receive in-person training in putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE). The protocols ensure that New York's hospitals can safely treat patients with Ebola. DOH is also providing guidance to other health professionals and facilities on the proper management of people with potential exposure to Ebola.
Hospitals have established workgroups, identified what type and which rooms would be used for a patient with the Ebola virus; decided what kind of PPE to use; practiced putting PPE on and removing it safely; provided additional staff training; planned for laboratory evaluation of specimens; planned for infection control; coordinated with emergency medical services (EMS), medical waste disposal, and established protocols. New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is working with the Health Association of New York State (HANYS) and the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) to ensure that all hospitals in the state are conducting drills with mock patients to test emergency department capacity to quickly identify and isolate suspected Ebola patients.
Hospitals are training and conducting drills. At the request of NYSDOH acting commissioner Zucker, GNYHA, and HANYS, hospitals are drilling their emergency departments on their ability to quickly detect and isolate a patient with suspected Ebola virus. The drills help hospitals evaluate their readiness, identify areas for improvement, execute improvements, and conduct corrective training.
NYSDOH is assessing tertiary care hospitals to determine their level of preparedness to handle Ebola cases and to assess their levels of critical resources, such as isolation rooms, staff identified on all shifts, equipment, supplies, and PPE.
NYSDOH and hospitals have been having regular calls to plan for Ebola. NYSDOH regional offices have met with providers and are addressing hospital questions, providing guidance on issues such as planning, policy, and conducting drills, and planning for and ordering necessary PPE.
NYSDOH has utilized its Health Commerce System to distribute its own CDC, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH), New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCOEM), and other federal guidance regarding Ebola. NYSDOH has distributed signage; created an Ebola section on its website; provided collaborative guidance between the state, NYCDOHMH, and FDNY on EMS protocols between hospitals and EMS providers; discussed laboratory procedures for hospital testing; and is preparing guidance regarding handling of human remains.