New York Hospital Queens confident it could handle Ebola

Photo courtesy of CDC/ Frederick A. Murphy

Ebola isn’t in New York City. But New York Hospital Queens has been preparing for an outbreak, according to a panel of four of the hospital’s doctors during a press conference on Tuesday.

“Everyone here is very concerned about the Ebola virus,” said Sorana Segal-Maurer, director of the hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases. “Because we’re located in an area where there’s a lot of international travel, we’ve taken steps to prepare for Ebola.”

The press conference was held to assure the public that the Flushing hospital was capable of handling and quarantining a patient infected with Ebola, the virus that has killed thousands in West Africa. The doctors emphasized that during this flu season, it’s hard to identify the Ebola virus because its symptoms in patients are similar to many seasonal colds.

To discern between a life-threatening illness and a common cold, the nurses and doctors in the Queens hospital ask patients about their travel history. A recent trip to Liberia lands the patient in quarantine, according to Dr. Mark Kindschuh. There are currently no patients in the hospital that are currently being held in quarantine.

“Our staff are trained to ask travel questions,” he said. But the doctors and the hospital don’t know what to do with the patients after that step, and they suggested that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention would step in.

“We do not know what those next steps are but we’re preparing for caring for Ebola patients here,” said Mimi Lim, director of Infection Control.


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