Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
"The only approach to a storm of this magnitude is to act preemptively. Waiving fares may be the factor that convinces some people to leave promptly when they might otherwise be tempted to stay and confront this hurricane," Governor Cuomo said.
Tolls are already suspended at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
On August 2, an accomplished and respected member of the medical community contacted From The G-Man and stated his colleagues -- doctors, nurses and various medical personnel -- are jeopardizing public health and safety by continuing to enter and exit hospitals in scrubs and lab coats, which he says is an issue that needs to be seriously addressed by the New York State Health Department and related agencies.
"My medical title is radiology technologist and I've been employed in the field for almost 15 years. I've worked with hospitals that maintained strict policies in relation to scrubs and lab coats being worn outdoors. It was something that you just didn't do, but fewer and fewer hospitals seem to care," said the tech, who asked to be identified only as "MC".
"Some hospitals enforce it, but most don't. The place where the abuse of the lab coat rule is most prevalent, from my experience, is New York Presbyterian - Columbia University Medical Center on 168th Street in Manhattan. St. Luke’s is another offender that I have witnessed, but not as bad," MC stated.
The technician went on the note that he believes this common practice is being completely ignored by hospital administrators and creating extremely unsanitary conditions that can lead to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and staph infections. The following link provides more information on MRSA infections.
From The G-Man spoke with two other sources from the medical community that are equally concerned and in complete agreement with MC’s assessment.
“Susan”, a retired Registered Nurse and Nursing Supervisor who asked that her name be changed to protect her identity, worked for 30 years at a well-known Queens-based hospital.
“I was the most hated person on my floor, without a doubt, because I always challenged nurses and interns for not adhering to quality-care practices and standards,” said Susan.
“I got into the habit of carrying my uniform in a clothing bag when I had to go in, and I would change back to my street clothes when my shift was over. Others would come into work with dirty uniforms, and I would lay into them because they knew better. Many of the doctors and techs were no better. I couldn’t believe how they would walk around in scrubs and lab coats with pen markings or other stains on them. It was supposed to be a sterile environment, for God’s sake!” continued Susan.
“The only reason why they got away with it is because hospital officials, as well as the New York State Department of Health, never said anything. Trust me; there are plenty of other hospitals doing it now.”
In another example of how patient safety may have been compromised, Susan explained that a number of nurses she worked with would wear two or three pairs of latex gloves at a time while treating patients and simply remove one pair as they treated each patient.
“They did that to avoid washing their hands after every patient, which is mandatory for nurses and all medical staff. I fought with so many of them over that,” Susan concluded.
“Trisha”, a medical assistant that has worked for a Washington Heights-based, multi-service clinic for the last five years, was very direct when asked about scrubs, lab coats and – in her specific case – medical assistant uniforms being worn outdoors.
“I think it’s disgusting. I see it on the train all the time when I go into work. During my training, my instructors drilled it into ours heads that we should never wear our uniforms openly because of the threat of contagions or germs,” said Trisha.
“The subway has to be the dirtiest place in New York City, and I’ve seen people do some really nasty things on the train -- from sneezing onto their uniforms to coughing in their hand and then wiping it on their uniform. I don’t put on my uniform until I get to the office, and I take it off before I leave work. Quite frankly, I think the state needs to create a rule and enforce it.”
The 30-year-old medical assistant's claim about subway filth and germs has been substantiated in several published reports that are available online. In 2010, a special report by WABC-TV's Eyewitness News investigative team also revealed that many of the subway cars were not being cleaned properly, or not being cleaned at all, by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees. The segment can be viewed via the following link.
From The G-Man visited New York Presbyterian - Columbia University Medical Center, stood out front for an hour, and watched staff members enter and exit the facility in scrubs, lab coats and other medical attire. Many were also standing or seated out front having lunch or taking "smoke breaks". Upon leaving the area, two hospital workers were seen emerging from a nearby #1 subway station in medical attire that was clearly wrinkled and dirty.
New York Presbyterian - Columbia University Medical Center's Community Affairs and Media Relations representatives were contacted in order to allow the institution an opportunity to present its side of the story regarding this issue. A grace period was given, but comments were not provided by the time this story was posted. From The G-Man will post any and all comments from the hospital representatives as they become available.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta was contacted to find out what the policy is regarding scrubs and lab coats worn outside of medical facilities, and Dr. Michael Bell, Deputy Director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, addressed the issue.
“Scrubs or any garments that become grossly covered in blood or body fluids such as during childbirth, surgery, etc., should be changed promptly to protect patients and the wearer,” stated Bell.
“The majority of scrubs currently worn in healthcare facilities are equivalent to street clothes in terms of infection control, thus gowns and hand hygiene used as part of standard precautions should be implemented regardless of attire,” Bell added.
“There is currently no indication for all personnel -- as well as deliverymen and visitors, presumably -- entering a healthcare facility to change into special garments and remove them before leaving. The rest of your inquiry would be best suited for the New York State Department of Health, the doctor concluded.”
The New York State Department of Health was also contacted in order to acquire a detailed explanation of the guidelines involving medical attire being worn outside of hospitals and clinics. Jeffrey Hammond, spokesman for the Public Affairs Group, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health, issued the following statement.
“There are no state rules or regulations about wearing hospital scrubs outside of a facility. There are no scientific data indicating that scrub apparel worn home has been responsible for the transmission of infections of any kind. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC) has produced a report related to this issue entitled, “Use of Scrubs and Related Apparel in Health Care Facilities”. A copy of this report is attached for your reference.”
In the interest of the public and all healthcare professionals, From The G-Man has provided the link to the full APIC report below. The report was issued in 1997.
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
ON PREPARATIONS FOR HURRICANE IRENE
Fisher House at Blue Heron Farm
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
11:28 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I want to say a few words about Hurricane Irene, urge Americans to take it seriously, and provide an overview of our ongoing federal preparations for what's likely to be an extremely dangerous and costly storm.
I’ve just convened a conference call with senior members of my emergency response team and directed them to make sure that we are bringing all federal resources to bear and deploying them properly to cope not only with the storm but also its aftermath.
I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst. All of us have to take this storm seriously.
You need to listen to your state and local officials, and if you are given an evacuation order, please follow it. Just to underscore this point: We ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid this storm yesterday. So if you’re in the way of this hurricane, you should be preparing now.
If you aren’t sure how to prepare your families or your home or your business for a hurricane or any other emergency, then you can visit Ready.gov -- that's Ready.gov -- or Listo.gov. That's Listo.gov.
Now, since last weekend, FEMA has been deploying its Incident Management Assistance Teams to staging areas in communities up and down the coast. FEMA has millions of liters of water, millions of meals, and tens of thousands of cots and blankets, along with other supplies, pre-positioned along the Eastern Seaboard. And the American Red Cross has already begun preparing shelters in North Carolina and other states.
These resources are all being coordinated with our state and local partners, and they stand ready to be deployed as necessary. But, again, if you are instructed to evacuate, please do so. It's going to take time for first responders to begin rescue operations and to get the resources we've pre-positioned to people in need.
So the more you can do to be prepared now -- making a plan, make a supply kit, know your evacuation route, follow instructions of your local officials -- the quicker we can focus our resources after the storm on those who need help the most.
To sum up, all indications point to this being a historic hurricane. Although we can’t predict with perfect certainty the impact of Irene over the next few days, the federal government has spent the better part of last week working closely with officials in communities that could be affected by this storm to see to it that we are prepared. So now is the time for residents of these communities -- in the hours that remain -- to do the same. And FEMA and Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, will be keeping people closely posted in the next 24, 48 hours.
Thank you very much.
END 11:31 A.M. EDT
Statement by the President on the Attack in Mexico
I strongly condemn the barbaric and reprehensible attack in Monterrey, Mexico yesterday. On behalf of the American people, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this difficult time.
The people of Mexico and their government are engaged in a brave fight to disrupt violent transnational criminal organizations that threaten both Mexico and the United States. The United States is and will remain a partner in this fight. We share with Mexico responsibility for meeting this challenge and we are committed to continuing our unprecedented cooperation in confronting these criminal organizations.
Statement by the President on the Attack on the United Nations in Abuja, Nigeria
I strongly condemn today’s horrific and cowardly attack on the United Nations headquarters building in Abuja, Nigeria, which killed and wounded many innocent civilians from Nigeria and around the world. I extend the deepest sympathies of the American people to the victims and their families, colleagues, and friends, whom we will keep in our thoughts and prayers.
The people who serve the United Nations do so with a simple purpose: to try to improve the lives of their neighbors and promote the values on which the UN was founded -- dignity, freedom, security, and peace. The UN has been working in partnership with the people of Nigeria for more than five decades. An attack on Nigerian and international public servants demonstrates the bankruptcy of the ideology that led to this heinous action.
The United States strongly supports the work of the United Nations and its lasting bond with the people of Nigeria, a bond that will only emerge stronger in the wake of this murderous act.
Author: Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Army First Lieutenant Timothy J. Steele died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion of the 87th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Drum, NY. First Lieutenant Steele was from Duxbury, Massachusetts.
"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of First Lieutenant Steele," Governor Cuomo said.
"We will honor the service of this Fort Drum soldier and remember his dedication to our country with deep gratitude. I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers."
From The G-Man would like to honor Army First Lieutenant Timothy J. Steele, his love of country and his service with the following video tribute. May he rest in peace.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
WASHINGTON—At the direction of President Obama, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano reached out to governors and mayors from regions potentially impacted by Hurricane Irene to discuss coordinated federal, state, and local preparedness efforts including: Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Secretary Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate later convened a call with state, local, and tribal emergency management officials, homeland security advisors, elected officials and tribal leaders in regions potentially affected by Hurricane Irene as the storm travels up the East Coast—highlighting that while hurricanes can inflict significant damage, federal, state, local and tribal authorities all play critical roles in preparing for, and responding to, storms like this through coordinated resiliency efforts, and the priority is ensuring that all steps are taken to protect potentially impacted communities.
These calls were in addition to the daily coordination between FEMA and state, local, and emergency officials that has been taking place since last weekend.
“DHS and FEMA, along with the entire federal family, are leaning forward to support our state and territorial partners as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast,” said Secretary Napolitano.
“Through its regional offices in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, FEMA is coordinating with state, tribal and local officials that could be impacted or have already been impacted by this storm, to ensure they have the support they need to respond. Given the unpredictability of these storms, we are currently planning for several scenarios, including potential impacts to major metro areas and critical infrastructure.”
"Preparation for Hurricane Irene will continue to require a team effort. FEMA is just part of the team that includes the entire federal family, state, tribal, and local governments, the faith-based and non-profit community, the private sector and most importantly the public," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
"The public can do their part, by preparing before Hurricane Irene, and if told to evacuate, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials."
The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the North Carolina Coast from North of Surf City to the North Carolina-Virginia border. A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the area within 48 hours. For more forecast information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center, click here.
In advance preparation for the storm, FEMA National Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMATs) are on the ground in North Carolina and Virginia and arriving in South Carolina, today in anticipation of further deployment to potential impact areas along the east coast of the U.S.
In addition, Regional IMATs are being deployed to Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, to coordinate with state, tribal and local officials to identify needs and shortfalls impacting potential disaster response and recovery efforts.
Additionally, at all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.
The Department of Defense is also supporting these efforts, including providing important staging locations for commodities. Fort Bragg, North Carolina has been designated as one of several Incident Support Bases (ISBs)—distribution centers located closer to the impacted areas, allowing FEMA and federal partners to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather—to support states within the regions potentially affected by Hurricane Irene.
FEMA is coordinating across the federal government to ensure territorial and state officials have the support they need as they respond to or prepare for Irene. For additional information on the actions taken thus far, click here.
FEMA encourages everyone, regardless of whether they live in a hurricane-prone area, to take steps to ensure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for a possible emergency.
FEMA's support for disaster response activities in Puerto Rico, and its proactive support for East Coast storm preparations, does not diminish its focus on critical federal disaster response and recovery operations that continue, across the nation, including flooding in the Midwest and the ongoing recovery from the southeastern tornadoes.
Photo source: Department of Homeland Security
Author: Department of Homeland Security
Permission: Public Domain
A state of emergency enables New York to use state resources to assist local governments more effectively and quickly, allows the state to activate the national "Emergency Management Assistance Compact" to bring in resources from out of the state, and enables New York to access key federal resources earlier in anticipation of an emergency.
Cuomo is continuing to coordinate the statewide preparation for the storm and has ordered the state's Emergency Operations Center in Albany to operate twenty-four hours a day. At the Governor's direction, state agencies and local governments are planning cooperative response efforts.
The governor and his administration have been in contact with local officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and county executives, to coordinate preparation. The state government is communicating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service to discuss the potential tracks of the storm.
"In this emergency I am activating all levels of state government to prepare for any situation that may be caused by Hurricane Irene," Governor Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo is overseeing state mobilization in preparation for the potential storm, including:
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is coordinating with the National Weather Service to track the storm. OEM's Emergency Operations Center is activated and OEM has deployed command vehicles to Nassau and Suffolk counties. OEM will make additional deployments of personnel and resources as needed. OEM is also coordinating with emergency teams across the state to activate local emergency plans.
The Division of State Police is preparing to stage resources, including aviation, marine, dive, and communications units.
The Division of Military and Naval Affairs is developing a plan to put hundreds of troops on State Active Duty to deal with storm-related response. These troops would be available to work with state and city agencies as required.
The state Department of Health is coordinating with the NYC Department of Health to plan for potential evacuations or sheltering of hospitals in certain flood zones.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is preparing for potential outages, coordinating with power plants and transmission line operators, and setting up extra staff for the weekend. The Governor's office and the PSC also spoke directly with CEOs of the six major electric utilities – Con Edison, National Grid, Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, NYSEG, and RG&E – to discuss collaboration on potential power restoration efforts. The PSC's consumer services office will have extra weekend staff to deal with outage complaints and to provide the public with information.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) are both confirming extra staffing and conducting internal operations to prepare for potential impacts. LIPA is closely coordinating with National Grid to ensure it is fully prepared on Long Island.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has cancelled all weekend track work and is directing personnel to be on standby for emergency repairs. The MTA will have Subway Emergency Dispatch Vehicles, subway track maintenance personnel, and extra bus tow trucks standing by. The MTA's subway division and bridges and tunnels division will have emergency generators on standby for potential power failures. The MTA is also inspecting critical subway, track, and tunnel pumps to ensure they are working properly.
The Department of Transportation has begun preventive maintenance and debris removal and is distributing flood control equipment. Equipment in active work zones is being secured, additional erosion protection is being addressed as necessary, barges are secured, and plans for post-storm clean-up are being developed.
DEC is canceling reservations at all DEC campgrounds in the Catskill Preserve (North-South Lake, Bear Spring Mountain, Beaverkill, Devil's Tombstone, Kenneth L. Wilson, Little Pond, Mongaup Pond, and Woodland Valley). DEC will close and evacuate these Campgrounds as well as Catskill Preserve Day Use facilities by noon on Saturday.
In addition, over the coming days the state is deploying the following agencies down to local county and city emergency management offices:
NYC: Office of Emergency Management; Office of Fire Prevention & Control; Department of Health; Division of State Police; Port Authority of New York & New Jersey; Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Department of Transportation; Department of Environmental Conservation; American Red Cross
Nassau County: Office of Emergency Management; Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Department of Transportation; Long Island Rail Road; Division of State Police; Division of Military and Naval Affairs, if activated; Office of Fire Prevention & Control; Department of Health; Department of Environmental Conservation; American Red Cross; Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Westchester County: Metro-North Railroad; Office of Fire Prevention & Control; Department of Transportation; Division of State Police; Thruway Authority; Department of Environmental Conservation; Office of Emergency Management; Department of Health; American Red Cross
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed the Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) A to Albany to be staged in the FEMA Joint Field Office and IMAT B to New Jersey to assist with planning and preparedness efforts.
The actual strength of the hurricane will depend on its course up the east coast of the United States. Parts of the state that are adjacent to coastal waters, such as Long Island and New York City, are considered most at risk. Inland locations can also be affected by heavy rainfall and strong winds, which can cause flooding and power outages.
Governor Cuomo urges New Yorkers to take stock of their emergency supplies, such as water, non-perishable food, radios, batteries, supplies for any pets, and first aid kits. The Governor also encourages New Yorkers to check in with neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled, who might need assistance to ensure that their needs are met if emergency instructions are issued.