York Hosts HHC CEO for Ebola Forum

By Alma Sacasa, Ram Raju, MD, MBA, FACS, FACHE, the president and CEO of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), was the keynote speaker at a recent York College public forum on the Ebola disease.

Dr. Raju explained to the audience in the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center, that while the disease is indeed frightful, Americans need not panic.
“Don’t be swayed by all of this media hype,” said Raju. “It’s a deadly disease, but it’s difficult to contract. Everyone (in the US) who has contracted the Ebola disease so far has been a health professional who has worked in close space with Ebola patients.”

According to the HHC website, the Ebola disease first came about in 1976 in Zaire (now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo). This time around the disease has made its way across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; and as of mid-November 2014, there have been 13,268 cases and 4,960 causalities, including Dr. Martin Salia a legal permanent resident of the United States, who had been working as a surgeon in Sierra Leone. He died November 17th, barely into his second day of treatment at a hospital in Nebraska. Dr. Salia, who arrived from Sierra Leone on a private flight, was in extremely critical condition when he arrived.

The Raju forum, facilitated by the York College Division of Student Development, was held in the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center. He announced to the audience that Doctor Craig Spencer, who returned from the epicenter of the disease in Guinea, and came down with the disease some days after returning home to New York City, had now been released with a clean bill of health from Bellevue, an HHC facility.
"I am pleased to announce that we were able to treat and cure a hero who put himself in harm's way to care for others," said Raju of Spencer.

Bellevue has been designated one of eight Ebola treatment centers in the state and one of five in New York City.

“It’s better to treat in one place because it can replicate and we wouldn’t want that” said Raju, who also discussed the unfounded fear toward children of Bellevue professionals.
“The kids of some of the staff are being rejected from certain daycare facilities because they are afraid the children may be carrying the Ebola disease and will affect other kids” said Raju. “It’s a sad thing to see these people who are kindly dedicating their time as well as putting themselves at risk are suffering these discriminations.”

According to Dr. Raju, HHC provide will provide unbiased care to anyone with the disease and with the same standard protocol.

“We help everyone” he said. “It doesn’t matter your race, age or immigration status, because all that matters is your health.”
Dr, Geneva Walker-Johnson, vice president for Student Development at York was delighted with the event.

“We were very fortunate and honored that Dr. Ram Raju accepted our invitation to come to York to discuss the facts and myths that have surrounded the Ebola virus,” said Dr. Walker-Johnson. “The depth of his knowledge about the virus and his presentation style were both engaging and informative, putting those in attendance at ease. In addition to the outstanding formal education we offer, as an educational institution, our commitment to our students and to our community is to be the place where important public service information is disseminated.”

By Alma Sacasa