NBHN: Stand Up To Violence (SUV) Initiative; Ebola Update

On Monday night, November 10 the North Bronx Health Care Network ( NBHN) Joint Community Advisory Board met on the Jacobi Medical Center ( JMC) Campus. The two major items on the agenda was an update on Ebola presented by Chris Fugazy, Chief Operating Office, NBHN, and an update on the SUV (Stand Up To Violence) Initiative.

Chris introduced Ellen O’Connor, Chief Nurse Executive for NBHN who also serves as the Ebola Czar for NBHN. The presentation detailed preparedness at NBHN as well as what has occurred when possible Ebola cases were brought to NBHN hospitals. Around the time that the meeting began it was announced by HHC that Dr. Craig Spencer was found to be free of the Ebola virus and was being released from Bellevue on November 11. This nation is now Ebola free. There is only very minimal risk for Ebola in our 50 states. Mr. Fugazy stressed that the cases of POSSIBLE Ebola who did go to the NBHN hospitals all proved negative.

One possible Ebola patient, a young boy, was sent for testing to Bellevue. He was found not to have Ebola. He had been in West Africa. Soon after his arrival back at home he developed a fever. He is now home and getting ready to enjoy the holidays in great health. Ms. O’Connor detailed the outfitting of staff that might come in contact with Ebola patients. They are dressed from head to toe in very safe protective gear. No part of their body is exposed when near any suspected Ebola patient. Possible Ebola patients do not remain at Jacobi or at NCBH. They are sent to the Ebola staff at Bellevue. All initial assessments of patients take place only in the ER. At the initial point of entry into the health care system at NBHN and all HHC facilities patients are properly triaged by expertly trained staff. If they have been to West Africa with the past 21 days and possibly had contact with anybody with Ebola and have had a fever they will immediately be fitted with a mask and isolated while a call is made to the ER. Arrangements will then be made for them to be taken to the ER where they will go into isolation and the special Ebola staff will then take over. Proper blood and other medical tests will be done. If a patient is determined to be high risk for Ebola that patient will be properly transferred to Bellevue. Staff instruction continues. Staff has been instructed to access a special Ebola update web site daily. Town Hall meetings have begun throughout the area. The Town hall meetings are being coordinated and organized by Mr. John Doyle, Associate Director of Public Relations for NBHN. All is well. As was reported in my October 2 and October 16 columns their is cause for concern BUT the “sky is not falling”. We are in good hands with NBHN and with HHC.

I did ask Nurse O’Connor about communication and assistance from CDC. She stated that it has improved since the first case in Texas .“These important community forums will allow us to meet with the public and answer their questions. At the same time, we can pass along important information so Bronx residents are informed about how Ebola is transmitted and the relatively low risk of transmission.” Said Dr. Elizabeth Jenny-Avital of Jacobi Medical Center, an expert of infectious diseases.

The SUV (Stand Up To Violence) Initiative was introduced by Sandy Chaiken, LCSW, Network Director of Social Work. Also presenting was Roberto Rodriguez, SUV Outreach Supervisor and Mervin Moore, SUV Hospital Responder. The program director is Erika Mendelsohn. Since its inception the program’s staff has been very effective in combating youth on youth violence.

As was stated in one of my columns, youth on youth violence is out of control. Be it with guns or knives our young people are dying or getting very seriously maimed. We know that it has to stop. The full time staff includes the Program Director, an Outreach Supervisor, a Hospital Responder, three outreach workers and two violence interrupters. Pastor Jay Gooding a well known community activist is the Community Outreach Director. The two target areas are within specific areas of NYPD Precincts 47 and 49. The members of the team work closely with community leaders and residents, clergy, youth groups and elected officials. Under the program staff immediately responds to violent incidents. Members of the staff act to prevent retaliation which often occurs after a shooting or a stabbing. Counseling is given to the patients and family. There are support groups, community events educational and vocational services provided. As soon as an individual is victimized by a gun shot wound, stab wound or assault wound the response team gets involved. That includes a pediatrician, social worker and hospital responder. The patient is followed very closely in the hospital. If the patient lives in the target and high risk area an outreach worker is assigned. One key element is that after release from the hospital the patient is assigned a Hospital Responder.

They meet as scheduled at least three times after discharge to discuss high risk behavior. The program is working. One interesting point was brought up by a staff member in response to a question. I also spoke to the staff member after the presentation. It appears that since stop and frisk was altered in January more of our young people have been carrying guns and knives. Maybe the issue has to be revisited. I did and still support needed changes in stop and frisk. If you have questions you can contact the Program Director, John Doyle or email SUVbronx@nbhn.net.

This program and its goals and staff are excellent. If you live in a high risk area please avail yourself of the program.

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