SCHUMER: NYC’S 4 DESIGNATED EBOLA TREATMENT CENTERS HAVE SPENT MILLIONS FOR THEIR EXTENSIVE COST OF TRAINING, RETROFITTING FACILITIES, PURCHASING HAZMAT SUITS TO PREPARE FOR EBOLA THREAT; CALLS ON FEDS TO REIMBURSE HOSPITALS THROUGH SENATOR’S NEWLY SECURED ‘EBOLA FUND’
Once Called to Action, Both Bellevue & Designated Ebola Treatment Centers Meticulously Trained Thousands of Health Workers on How to Identify & Treat Potential Ebola Patients & Purchased New Equipment, like PPE Suits
$700M Is Now Available for Domestic Ebola Response & Hospital Reimbursement As Part of the Historic $5.4 Billion for Domestic & International Ebola Work & Reimbursements to Hospitals for Training & More - Urges Fair Reimbursement As Federal Health & Human Services Secretary Creates Spending Plan in Next 30 Days Schumer: The Readiness of New York -Area Hospitals for Handling Ebola is Critical to Entire Region & Comes At a High Price
Senator Schumer today highlighted that NYC’s Bellevue Hospital & its 3 other Ebola Treatment Centers have spent millions dollars in order to prepare for the Ebola crisis, and will call for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that they are fairly reimbursed for that effort through a new ‘Ebola Fund’, one of his major Appropriations priorities. Schumer explained that just last week, the FY15 Omnibus spending bill included more than $5.4 billion in new funding for the Ebola response, $700 million of which HHS will receive to reimburse American hospitals that treated Ebola patients and that became designated Ebola Treatment Centers. In November, Schumer stood at Bellevue Hospital, which treated New York’s only Ebola patient, to fight for this $700 million in domestic Ebola funding. Since then, Schumer has worked hard in Congress to secure this critical funding in the Appropriations bill. These hospitals have meticulously trained thousands of health workers on how to treat and identify Ebola, purchased new equipment, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits, retrofitted parts of their facilities and designated isolation units for Ebola. Schumer will urge HHS Secretary Burwell, who has 30 days to develop a spending plan for this pot of new funding, to ensure that Long Island’s hospitals are not left to shoulder the burden alone. Schumer recognized that the City of New York has decided to contribute money in its budget to Bellevue, and said that more support from the federal government is still needed for Bellevue and the three other Ebola Treatment Centers, Montefiore Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Mt Sinai Hospital. Schumer said that just as he fought hard to secure this funding in the Appropriations Bill, he will now fight for this funding to be made available to these hospitals, which are critical players in the greater New York health network and their preparedness – which comes at a high price - will help protect the region.
Schumer said that the Omnibus spending bill provides top-line national numbers, and it is not intended to be split evenly amongst all states, but rather there is funding that can be provided to states like New York, Nebraska, Maryland and others that handled Ebola directly. Schumer said that this funding is a critical first step, and he will now lobby the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide New York, including New York City’s Ebola Treatment Centers, with a large portion of this new funding, as the Secretary develops a spending plan within 30 days of enactment.
“New York City’s Ebola Treatment Centers quickly and meticulously answered the call of duty to handle the Ebola threat by training thousands of healthcare workers, preparing isolation units, purchasing new equipment and more, and it is only fair that they be reimbursed for that critical, but expensive work. Thanks to the just-passed federal appropriations bill, there is $700 million that the Department of Health and Human Services can use to reimburse hospitals that have done work to treat Ebola patients, as well as those that have readied themselves for a case, and I am going to fight for New York City’s hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their role in protecting this community and the entire state from the Ebola threat. This is just what the doctor ordered for our hospitals that have worked hard to prepare for the Ebola crisis, specifically Bellevue Hospital that helped treat New York’s first Ebola patient,” said Senator Schumer.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has had approximately 500 staffers working on Ebola full-time. As part of the response, New York City coordinated an extensive contact tracing process that operated 24-hours a day. In fact, many of these staffers were working overtime, seven days a week. According to the New York Times, as of November 11, 2014, New York City had been tracking approximately 300 people per day for possible Ebola symptoms. Of that, two-thirds had been in Ebola hotspots in West Africa like, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. One-third of those being tracked were individuals involved in taking care of Dr. Spencer at Bellevue Hospital, including doctors, nurses and Fire Department employees who transported him to the hospital. As part of the contact tracing process, individuals being monitored for possible Ebola symptoms were required to take their temperature twice a day and check in with the NYC Health Department for 21 days. Operators, including some who spoke West African dialects, checked in with individuals and recorded the temperatures. Additionally, New York City helped with case investigations; researchers known as “disease detectives”, as well as the police, investigated all suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola and helped locate individuals who needed to be monitored. Additionally, HHC incurred costs for contracted hires of healthcare professionals needed to backfill for staffing shortages on nurses treating Dr. Spencer and training for Ebola protocols.
Ebola Treatment Centers in New York City, like Montefiore Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital and Bellevue Hospital worked to identify and treat potential Ebola patients. In August, a patient was rushed to Mt. Sinai with possible Ebola- symptoms; the patient was isolated, however, eventually tested negative for the disease. These four hospitals prepared for the Ebola crisis by purchasing PPE gear and Ebola Emergency Response Supply Barrels, which contain personal protective equipment. Specifically at Mt. Sinai Hospital, staffers ran drills to find security holes.
Montefiore Medical Center spent $8-$10 million on building a biocontainment unit and training. Mt. Sinai Hospital has spent $7 million so far on training and bio-containment. New York Presbyterian Hospital has spent $3.3 million to date on Ebola-related expenses.
The FY15 Omnibus spending bill includes the following funding for domestic preparedness of Ebola, that could potentially be used for Ebola Treatment Centers:
Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund will receive $733M, which is available until Sept. 2019, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities. These funds may be used for the renovation and alteration of privately owned facilities to improve preparedness and response capability at the State and local level. This fund includes money for the Hospital Preparedness Program and Ebola Treatment Centers, including for the use of PPE purchase and training. A significant part of this fund will be allocated at the discretion of the Secretary.
Schumer has previously urged that an ‘Ebola Contingency Fund’ be created and operated like the CDC’s federal isolation and quarantine fund for Tuberculosis within the Division of Global Migration, which sets aside federal funding for states and localities to be reimbursed for the treatment of tuberculosis patients and to contain the threat. Schumer noted two pots of funding that will be made available for the long term, through September 2019: 1.) that both the CDC funding of $1.77 billion for preparedness, transportation, medical care, treatment, and other related costs, and 2.) the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of $733M to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities.
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