‘We’re Confident and We’re Ready!’ St. John’s Hospital Holds Bio-Terrorism Conference
‘We’re Confident and We’re Ready!’
St. John’s Hospital Holds
By Gary G. Toms
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital hosted a conference on bio-terrorism last week, as result of the recent Anthrax outbreak throughout the country. In an effort to ease the community’s fears about the dangerous disease, and separate fact from fiction, three of the hospital’s leading authorities on Anthrax and other biological agents provided information and safety tips to deal with the possibility of outbreaks here in the Rockaways.
"The hospital is going to great lengths to prepare for the unthinkable. We are taking special initiatives to insure the safety of the community in the event of an attack," said Raymond J. Pastore, M.D., who is the Chief Medical Officer for St. John’s.
"Given the circumstances of September 11, we have heightened our sensitivity level and awareness to the possibility of an attack here in the Rockaways. Our safety drills include a number of scenarios that we feel would adequately prepare us for just about anything."
Pastore also noted that the facility has undergone certain changes to combat against a biological attack.
"We have upgraded 16 rooms in Tower 10 of the hospital. There are various bioresearch facilities and stations set up in the event of an attack. They are equipped with state of the art technology and medical devices that will help us to deal with terrorist threats."
John F. Boyle, Ph.D., M.S., RM (NRM), Director of Laboratory and Respiratory Services for the hospital, spoke in detail about the many myths that are circulating regarding Anthrax.
"Unfortunately, the continuous coverage in the media has fueled the public’s fears about Anthrax. I can safely state that it is not a communicable disease. You must inhale, ingest or have physical contact with the bacteria in order to get it. It is NOT transmitted from person to person."
Dee L’Archeveque, M.D., Chairman of Emergency Medicine at the facility, provided comical commentary on the dangers of biological agents, but stressed the importance of grasping all of the facts when it comes to Anthrax and the treatment of it.
"We have to be careful that people are not misinformed about this disease and its treatment. I urge people not to run out and start stocking up on Cipro or other antibiotics used to treat Anthrax. If you have everybody running around pumping antibiotics into their system, they will lessen the effectiveness of the treatment and build up a resistance to the drugs."
State Senator Malcolm Smith attended the conference, and he was very vocal about the fact that certain people are taking advantage of the Anthrax scare by pulling pranks and hoaxes.
"There are people who think it is funny to pull these types of stunts. There is nothing funny about it. People have died, and the threat of more possible attacks has the nation in fear. I can promise you that Congress is taking the matter very seriously, and those who engage in these types of acts will be dealt with swiftly and severely."
The speakers pointed out that the hospital does have a contingency plan in place if both area hospitals should be forced to shut down because of contamination, as was the case with the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City.
"We have links to other area hospitals, and doctors, in the event of a shutdown. They have assured us that they will work with us in any way possible if needed. We will work together to evacuate, transfer and treat patients if necessary." stated Dee L’Archeveque.
The doctors also agree that St. John’s is ready to handle other biological agent attacks, such as the Ebola virus or the flesh-eating bacteria that have been found in certain areas of the country.