Long Island, NY - December 16, 2014 - Senator Schumer today demanded that Long Island’s designated Ebola Treatment Centers – North Shore LIJ & Stony Brook University Hospital – not be left behind to shoulder the over $6 million cost of preparing for the Ebola crisis, and called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that they are not overlooked when using new appropriations funding to reimburse hospitals across the country. Schumer explained that just last week, the FY15 Omnibus spending bill included more than $5.4 billion in new funding for the Ebola response, $700 million of which HHS Secretary Burwell will determine how to spend in the next 30 days. Schumer explained that the HHS Secretary has discretion on how to spend this funding, and it can be used in a variety of ways, including vaccine development, reimbursement of hospitals that treated Ebola patients, reimbursement for renovations, training and other work at designated Ebola treatment centers, and more. However, given the fact that there is no formula on how to divide this money, Schumer urged Secretary Burwell today to ensure that Long Island Ebola Treatment Centers be reimbursed.
Schumer noted that North Shore-LIJ and Stony Brook meticulously trained thousands of health workers on how to treat and identify Ebola, purchased new equipment, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits, retrofitted parts of their facilities and designated isolation units for Ebola. North Shore-LIJ’s capital costs preparing for Ebola exceed $6 million and Stony Brook University Hospital’s capital costs preparing for Ebola exceed $400,000. Schumer said that the Omnibus spending bill provides top-line national numbers, and it is not intended to be split evenly amongst all states, but rather there is funding that can be provided to states like New York, Nebraska, Maryland and others that handled Ebola directly.
Schumer was joined by Michael Dowling, President and CEO of NSLIJ, and Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak, MD MPH MBA, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital.
“Long Island’s Ebola Treatment Centers – North Shore LIJ and Stony Brook – quickly and meticulously answered the call of duty to handle the Ebola threat by training thousands of healthcare workers, preparing isolation units, purchasing new equipment and more, and they cannot be left behind when it comes to being reimbursed for this critical, but expensive work. Securing over $700 million for the Department of Health and Human Services in the just-passed federal appropriations bill was only the first step, and now I am urging Secretary Burwell to ensure that North Shore LIJ and Stony Brook be prioritized as a spending plan is developed for this funding. Just because these Long Island facilities have not treated an Ebola patient, does not mean that their costs have not been extremely high in order to ready for a potential patient,” said Senator Schumer.
“To date, the North Shore-LIJ Health System has spent more than $6 million on Ebola preparedness, including about $2 million for a Specialized Treatment Unit at Glen Cove Hospital, which was designated two weeks ago by the CDC as one of 36 Ebola Treatment Centers nationwide,” said Michael Dowling, President and CEO of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “I applaud Senator Schumer for his advocacy in securing funding that will help offset costs incurred by hospitals in protecting the public from the spread of not only Ebola, but numerous other potentially deadly infectious diseases.”
“Stony Brook University Hospital immediately stepped up to the plate when we were designated as an Ebola treatment center, spending a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to properly prepare our facility,” said L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital and Vice-President for Health Systems, Stony Brook Medicine. “We were honored to take on this important role for our community and public health statewide, but like other hospitals across the nation, our Ebola preparedness efforts have taken a toll on our budget.”
North Shore-LIJ and Stony Brook University Hospital are on the list of 11 designated New York Ebola Treatment Centers. North Shore-LIJ trained 6,000 health workers on how to identify and treat an Ebola patient. As part of the training, health workers were taught how to properly wear and remove PPE. In addition, North Shore-LIJ prepared a $2 million two room isolation unit, also known as a biocontainment unit, for potential Ebola patients by retrofitting the third floor of their Glen Cove facility with new walls, windows, negative air-pressure units, a dedicate laboratory and added security systems. Likewise, Stony Brook University Hospital identified isolation rooms for the treatment of potential Ebola patients. Stony Brook also trained Emergency Department personnel, intensivists and ICU nurses who engaged in drills.
The FY15 Omnibus spending bill includes the following funding for domestic preparedness of Ebola, that could potentially be used for Long Island hospitals:
Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund will receive $733M, which is available until Sept. 2019, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities. These funds may be used for the renovation and alteration of privately owned facilities to improve preparedness and response capability at the State and local level. This fund includes money for the Hospital Preparedness Program and Ebola Treatment Centers, including for the use of PPE purchase and training. A significant part of this fund will be allocated at the discretion of the Secretary.
Schumer has previously urged that an ‘Ebola Contingency Fund’ be created and operated like the CDC’s federal isolation and quarantine fund for Tuberculosis within the Division of Global Migration, which sets aside federal funding for states and localities to be reimbursed for the treatment of tuberculosis patients and to contain the threat. Schumer noted two pots of funding that will be made available for the long term, through September 2019: 1.) that both the CDC funding of $1.77 billion for preparedness, transportation, medical care, treatment, and other related costs, and 2.) the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of $733M to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities.