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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals' Zika Action Plan Offers Guidance to Health Systems Nationally

Article published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report underscores the importance of health systems to be prepared for patients with Zika

Oct 27, 2016

New York, NY

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, today published the article “Preparedness for Zika Virus Disease — New York City, 2016,” written by four experts at NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public health care system in the nation and a recognized leader in infectious diseases. The article lays out a robust emergency preparedness and response program that can help other health care systems limit the effects of Zika virus and ensure appropriate screening, diagnosis, and care.
“We are privileged to share our experience and expertise in managing infectious disease with the rest of the nation,” said Dr. Ram Raju, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “No one health care system can fight an aggressive and dangerous disease like Zika alone, but working together in applying consistent best practices nationally, we can have the greatest impact.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals proactively developed a Zika preparedness and Response Action Plan with a strong framework for screening patients and ensuring appropriate patient care,” said Denise J. Jamieson, M.D., incident manager for CDC’s Zika Response. “The plan emphasizes the importance of preparedness planning and continued collaboration between health care systems and city and state health departments.”
“The Health Department continues to work closely with NYC Health + Hospitals to raise awareness about the dangers of the Zika virus, particularly to pregnant women, those able to conceive who are not using barrier methods, and their partners,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Even while mosquito season in New York City is coming to a close, we remain vigilant as the virus continues to circulate in the Caribbean and in much of the Americas.”
NYC Health + Hospitals created its Zika Preparedness and Response Action Plan by building upon the framework established in 2014 to screen patients for possible exposure to the Ebola virus. The Zika plan includes universal screening for travel-associated Zika virus exposure, signage and maps depicting areas with active Zika virus transmission, laboratory services, and timely linking of infected patients to appropriate care. Potentially effective strategies include modification of established and tested protocols, offering ongoing health care provider education, and close collaboration with state and local health departments for Zika guidance and support.
New York has reported the highest number of Zika virus disease cases of any state, with 715 cases reported as of September 21. During April–July 2016, a total of 729 patients from NYC Health + Hospitals were tested for possible Zika virus infection.
“Accompanying the article are two tools we created that we hope will be especially useful,” said Syra S. Madad, DHSc, director of Ebola and Special Pathogens Preparedness and Response at NYC Health + Hospitals and a lead author of the article. “The first tool sequences the initial screening process, which includes screening questions and who might be expected to ask them. The second spells out a more focused protocol to guide Zika screening of women who are pregnant. Notes link to or provide supporting guidance.”
“Preparedness for Zika Virus Disease — New York City, 2016” was written by Dr. Madad; Joseph Masci, MD, director of the Department of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst; Nicholas V. Cagliuso, Sr., PhD, assistant vice president for Emergency Management at NYC Health + Hospitals; and Machelle Allen, MD, interim chief medical officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. The article is available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6542a2.htm?s_cid=mm6542a2_e.