Ebola doc goes home

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mayor de Blasio applauded the work of both Dr Spencer in Africa and the Bellevue medics (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio was at Bellevue Hospital as Dr. Craig Spencer, New York City’s first and only case of Ebola, was discharged on Tuesday morning.

“Dr. Spencer is Ebola free and New York is Ebola free,” the mayor announced at the news conference, attended by Spencer, his parents and the team of doctors and nurses who were responsible for his care.

Mayor de Blasio emphasized the importance of the work that Spencer had been doing in Guinea before he returned to New York. “It’s a good feeling to hug a hero, and he is a hero,” the mayor said.

Dr. Ram Raju, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), echoed this sentiment.

“I’m elated because we could treat and cure a hero and Dr. Spencer personified this,” he said. “Had he not contracted Ebola, few people would ever have known him and there are many more like him. They are the heroes of our time.”

Spencer, in turn, tried to bring the focus away from himself and back to the efforts in West Africa where doctors are still fighting the virus.

“My infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in West Africa,” he said, recounting the sadness he felt when holding infected children and the joy he felt when patients were cured. “I will not be commenting publicly beyond this and urge you to focus on the source of the outbreak.”

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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Common sense lost during Sandy?

To the editor:

As a resident of Peter Cooper Village for more than 20 years, I have frequently driven onto Peter Cooper Road to drop off packages or pick up passengers. Until recently, the guard at the gatehouse copied the four digits from the resident sticker on my windshield and waved me in.

That began to change about three months ago, when one guard asked me where I was going. I pointed to the sticker and said that was all he needed.
“We don’t use them anymore,” said my interrogator, standing just across from the sign that says “Admittance by sticker only.” He went on to explain that the “book” containing the resident information linked to the stickers was “lost in Hurricane Sandy.”

Really? And it only took our Public Safety department two years to have discovered this. That really inspires confidence.

If the “book” were destroyed, it could be replaced. (Hint to Public Safety: This is the 21st century. You can store information electronically.) PCV residents who own cars can be asked to reapply for stickers. Or PCV could go really high tech and adopt the barcode readers that are already used in the complex’s garages to record exactly when cars enter and exit.

I have since been told by Public Safety guards that asking me where I’m going is for my own protection. If I overstay my allotted time on Peter Cooper Road, they will have my address and apartment number so that they can warn me before I get towed.

Am I to understand that Public Safety assumes that everyone is always honest? Why else would they prefer taking a driver’s word to actually knowing the name, address, apartment number, phone number and vehicle identification information of residents entering the complex by car? You see, all that information is linked to the four-digit number on my windshield sticker.

The reasons given for the new policy are absurd. I can only conclude that this is yet another way for management to harass long-time residents. They must believe that if they impose enough meaningless rules, we’ll all move out and PCV/ST will be completely market rate.

Joe Lisanti, PCV

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Bellevue was ready for Ebola, administrator says

Medical Director Dr. Nathan Link speaks at a Bellevue Community Advisory Board meeting with Associate Director for Community Relations Melissa Henry (left) and Associate Executive Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations Evelyn Hernandez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Medical Director Dr. Nathan Link speaks at a Bellevue Community Advisory Board meeting with Associate Director for Community Relations Melissa Henry (left) and Associate Executive Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations Evelyn Hernandez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Almost exactly 24 hours after Dr. Nathan Link provided updates on Ebola at the hospital’s monthly Community Advisory Board meeting last Wednesday, Bellevue’s isolation facilities were put to the test when Harlem resident Dr. Craig Spencer was admitted last Thursday evening with a confirmed case of the virus.

At the meeting the night before Spencer’s admittance, Link expressed confidence that the hospital was prepared as the city’s authorized center for treating Ebola, noting that the CDC had been there earlier that day and gave high praise to their preparations.

“We’ve been working on this since late July and preparations are complete,” Link assured the CAB members. At the time of the meeting, Link emphasized that there had not yet been a confirmed case of the virus in any of the patients who came in with suspicious symptoms and up until that point, there had been 30 people who came in with possible Ebola symptoms. “In all of these cases, Ebola was ruled out and they were released,” Link said. “Two patients from other facilities were brought to Bellevue, treated in isolation and both were discharged. We’ve had a number of opportunities to practice.”

When a committee member expressed anxiety about the situation with healthcare workers in Dallas, Link noted that Bellevue staff and administrators were learning from the missteps in Texas and had the proper equipment and training to deal with a confirmed case of the virus.

“We have state of the art equipment for the staff,” Link said. “We’ve used recommendations from Emory University Hospital and the University of  Nebraska  Medical Center  and biosafety experts from NYU. We’ve purchased equipment that was recommended and masks with a higher standard of protection. We have the same level of protection that Emory and Nebraska have in their facilities that have successfully treated patients with Ebola. The patients treated at those facilities have survived and are all safe.”

Link added that the isolation unit in 7W had specialized equipment with ICU-level care, including dialysis available in the room so patients don’t have to be brought anywhere else and a separate lab available so tests can be done right in the unit. “The patients are completely sealed off with no possibility of mixing,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal also reported last Friday that Bellevue has actually long been prepared for such an event, as the hospital already had an isolation ward that was put in place in the 1990s to deal with the AIDS crisis. The unit was developed when health officials were struggling to control the increasing number of tuberculosis cases driven by the rise of HIV, which lowered resistance to TB in infected adults. The ward has special anterooms, as well as plumbing and ventilation separate from the rest of the hospital, which became crucial in the city’s successful fight against TB.

Since Spencer was admitted to Bellevue, there was an additional scare with a five-year-old Bronx resident who had recently returned from Guinea and was also exhibiting the tell-tale symptoms of the illness, including a fever. He was tested on Monday and the result was negative. The hospital conducted an additional test “out of an abundance of caution” and kept the boy for observation. He was found to have a respiratory infection, which can have similar symptoms of Ebola. He was removed from isolation on Tuesday and remained at the hospital for treatment of the infection.

Bellevue reported that Spencer, who had also recently returned from Guinea, remained in serious but stable condition as of Tuesday.

Editorial: A little information goes a long way, Say yes to debating, not mud-slinging

A little information goes a long way

Last week, an attempted rape of a woman in a Stuyvesant Town elevator sent shockwaves through the community, which despite the occasional assault or robbery, has a reputation for being safer than most neighborhoods.

Far less shocking, but still disturbing was the fact that there was no attempt by the owner of the complex to reach out to residents. Town & Village reported on the crime on our blog shortly after the police released information about the attack, as did other local news outlets, and the Tenants Association sent out an e-mail blast to warn neighbors.

There was a time when, if there was a crime in the community, fliers would be posted in prominent spaces in lobbies, but sadly that hasn’t been the case in years.

In a recent high profile sex crime incident, in which, the “Stuy Town groper” victimized two women in the complex, fliers were distributed, but they came from local State Senator Brad Hoylman and his aides, not property management.

CWCapital didn’t respond to a request from this newspaper on Friday to speak with the chief of Public Safety or anyone else who could provide more details about the attack, other than to say (on Monday after the arrest) that security had been beefed up over the weekend and that a comment would be forthcoming. We’re still waiting.

The point here as long as management prefers to let tenants hear about crime in their apartment complex from the media and the TA, it’s going to appear that they care more about not scaring away potential renters than protecting those who’ve already signed on the dotted line.

CW already knows how to communicate with tenants when management wants to, sending emailed newsletters and Facebook posts to promote events and the soon to open ice rink. It would take no more effort to keep tenants in the loop about criminal activity.

Say yes to debating, not mud-slinging

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who’s held her position in Washington for 22 years, is currently running against Nicholas Di iorio, a former seminary student and former Pfizer employee whose party (Republican) automatically makes him a longshot. Di iorio has spent the past several weeks calling Maloney out for not accepting invitations to publicly debate him.

When asked why she wasn’t debating him, a rep for Maloney said she has agreed to a debate (scheduled for October 28 in an event held by the 17th Precinct Community Council).

Still, Di iorio this week issued press releases accusing Maloney of not debating him, but rather only agreeing to “show up” at the event, a candidates forum, then “speak for 20 minutes and take questions from the audience for 10 minutes.”

Maloney spokesperson Kathy Lynn responded to say the event, which she described as a debate, would have the format of candidates each getting a five-minute opening statement, followed by each candidate getting a short rebuttal.

Following that, the audience asks questions that are facilitated by a moderator,” Lynn said. “This is the format proposed by the 17th Precinct and both campaigns agreed to this when they accepted the invitation to participate.”

When asked for clarification on what the event was, an officer at the 17th Precinct told a T&V reporter it’s “not really a debate,” because there would be no formatted questions, but candidates from local races would have the opportunity to speak and take some questions.

So okay, it’s not technically a debate, but she’s also not shying away from questions.

Now this event aside, as to whether or not we think Maloney (or any candidate) should agree to participate in a debate event if invited and if their schedule permits, the answer is of course.

In Maloney’s case, the fact there hasn’t been a Republican elected in Manhattan since Roy Goodman left the State Senate may make expending the energy on a debate seem like a waste. Maybe, for her, it is.

Still, we think it’s still important for longtime candidates to continue to prove themselves to voters and also to show that they have nothing to hide.

That said, we also think Di iorio might have a better shot at being taken seriously if he’d tone down the near weekly ripping of Maloney via press releases.

As the election looms closer, the candidate has begun sending out statements bashing Maloney on everything from her trip to China to get a panda for New York (while Di iorio went to Israel) to authoring lots of bills that haven’t passed the house to not doing enough about Ebola.

These are fair game topics, but after a while, constant mud-slinging can begin to look like a too-desperate attempt to get attention and voters tune it out.

It’s also worth noting that the past two elections Maloney has run in, most recently with Republican Chris Wight and prior to that with Democrat Reshma Saujani during the primary, were pretty contentious. The attacks on Maloney in both races were nonstop and still Saujani and Wight were easily clobbered by Maloney.

It’s hard to say whether or not the negative campaigning had anything to do with it, since a well-known incumbent is always going to have an extreme advantage over a political newcomer. But it obviously didn’t help.

Letters to the editor, Oct. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants don’t deserve the silent treatment

Last Friday a man tried to rape a young woman in an elevator in Stuyvesant Town. Thankfully, the alleged perpetrator has now been caught.

While the Tenants Association quickly sent out an email informing tenants as to what had happened and urging them to stay alert and be careful, not one word about the incident was heard from CWCapital or Compass Rock. There were no emails from them. No warning flyers were posted in buildings or put under apartment doors. Nothing.

Unfortunately, their disgraceful behavior all too amply demonstrates and reinforces the feeling of many tenants that CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and Compass Rock show little or no regard for tenants. Management was willing to risk tenants’ safety – maybe even their lives – by saying nothing to them about this crime. Why? To protect their bottom line.

Rather than acknowledging the attack publicly, Management sought to avoid scaring off current or future renters, especially those whose parents foot the bill for them to live here. Protecting management’s bottom line is also the reason that crimes in STPCV are often reported as having occurred in “Gramercy.” Tenants need to demand that the 13th precinct start reporting the location of these crimes accurately. If it doesn’t, it will be viewed by tenants as nothing less than a tool of CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and CompassRock.

Name withheld, ST

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