The 52 hospitals within the nine counties represented by the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State continue their preparedness efforts to treat infectious diseases, such as Ebola, and other medical emergencies related to natural and manmade disasters through routine and enhanced preparedness activities. These include system-wide drills with health care workers in the donning and doffing (removal) of personal protective equipment (PPE), review of communication protocols and triage practices to ensure understanding within care teams and throughout facilities, and review of identification/treatment/transfer processes with local health departments and other first responder agencies to ensure swift and secure coordination.
Since the presentation in September of the first infected Ebola patient in Texas to the consequent infection of healthcare workers treating that patient, federal and state guidelines pertaining to the care of patients and protection of healthcare workers have been reviewed and revised by state and federal health agencies. While the chances of spread of the Ebola virus, which can only be transmitted via the bodily fluids of an actively symptomatic infected person, remain highly remote, hospital workers in the Suburban Alliance counties are well-trained and ready to deal with an infectious agent as virulent as Ebola.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued enhanced guidelines for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients. These include the wearing of full body suits with no skin exposure and use of a respirator at all times. CDC Director Thomas Frieden advised that healthcare workers undergo rigorous and repeated training in the donning and doffing of the gear until it becomes “ritualized.” The CDC also recommends that hospitals have a trained monitor to observe workers as they put on and take off the personal protective equipment. Learn more about the CDC’s enhanced guidelines for healthcare workers at their website.
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has also taken a very proactive stance on hospitals’ Ebola preparedness. An October 16thorder of action from the NYSDOH offers more detailed and exacting descriptions of infection control practices, drilling and training timelines – specifically requiring monthly assessments of staff competence in donning and removing PPE – and stringent protocols for identification, isolation, and transport of patients suspected of Ebola infection. It further defines procedures for medical waste disposal, treatment personnel logs, and point-of-contact mechanism to track the disease’s origin and spread. State Department of Health staff are traveling now to hospitals in the state to survey and assess their readiness and to offer assistance, if needed. The DOH designated eight hospitals located in strategic geographic regions throughout the state to serve as Ebola treatment facilities for identified patients. Go to the state’s website for more details about the NYSDOH order and the Ebola virus.
“The hospitals throughout the Hudson Valley region and on Long Island adhere to strict infection control protocols in all disease outbreak situations,” said Kevin Dahill, president/CEO of the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State. “Table top drills and simulations take place on a prescribed basis, as required by state and federal emergency preparedness mandates. Drills and training exercises at our hospitals were ramped up in the past few weeks, even before the state’s recent order, and our facilities are prepared to handle wide scale emergencies and disease outbreaks.”
While Congress works to undo many aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the New York State of Health Insurance Marketplace remains open for business. The deadline for coverage that begins February 1, 2017 occurs January 18, 2017. Open enrollment continues, however, through January 31, 2017.
New York State Health Insurance Marketplace officials report that enrollment activity has been very high these past few weeks. Since the last Open Enrollment period ended January 31, 2016, participation in the New York State of Health Marketplace has increased more than 22 percent. In addition, enrollment has increased in all 62 counties of the state, and the overall share of New Yorkers now enrolled through the New York State of Health Marketplace has reached nearly 18 percent of the state's population.
Enrollment in the small business marketplace, Child Health Plus, Medicaid, and the Essential Plan are available year long, as is enrollment in Qualified Health Plans for individuals with a qualifying life event, like loss of employerprovided coverage. Individuals and small businesses can shop the marketplace through an online portal www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by calling the state's customer service number at 855-355-5777, or by meeting with a statecertified navigator.
On Long Island, Suburban Hospital Alliance regional affiliate the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council (NSHC) is one of three state-appointed navigator agencies for the region. The Hudson Valley region is serviced by the Community Service Society of New York, Maternal Infant Services Network of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties, and the Westchester County and Rockland County Departments of Health. Navigators are available to assist individuals, businesses, and families in understanding insurance options offered and in purchasing insurance. The NSHC navigator agency maintains a user-friendly, bilingual website that lists enrollment sites and dates and other helpful information at www.coverage4healthcare.org. NSHC will hold open enrollment at its Hauppauge location (1383 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 26) on January 26, 2017 from 4 to 8 p.m. *Permission to reprint articles granted. Attribution required.
With the House's vote on a budget resolution today, a framework for repealing the Affordable Care Act is set in motion. The Senate passed the resolution earlier this week. The budget resolution includes instructions to four key House and Senate committees, providing target levels for spending in different areas. These committees will now work on a bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. Through the reconciliation process, items in the bill must be related to taxes or spending and the long-term federal debt in some way. The reconciliation process is a bit complex, and the hospital industry does not expect the details of that to be worked through until the spring. At risk is insurance for more than 2.7 million New Yorkers who obtained insurance through the marketplace and $4.3 billion in lost revenue during the next 10 years to hospitals on Long Island and throughout the Hudson Valley. This is because there is no indication at this time that the repeal legislation will also restore the planned cuts to hospitals that were negotiated into the ACA in 2010, as one way to help pay for the law. According to Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State President/CEO Kevin Dahill, there is no easy or definitive answer about how these actions will impact consumers or providers. "Congressional leaders and the president-elect have talked about their intent to replace the coverage provided by the ACA, but there is no plan on the table at this time that addresses what will happen to people who have ACA coverage now, what the new coverage mechanism would be, or how it will be paid for. We continue to advocate for immediate and meaningful replacement," said Dahill.