NYC Health + Hospitals leads multi-agency training exercise to keep eight million city residents safe

Health worker in full-body PPE loads an equally-protected patient into an ambulance

Emergency readiness is achieved through practice and rehearsing. Then, doing it some more. And once again.

In early August, NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers, led a training exercise testing the health care system’s ability to identify and isolate “patients” with simulated Marburg virus symptoms and safely transport them to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

The exercise was “no notice,” meaning health care workers seeing the two simulated patients did not know it was a drill. Health care and EMS workers needed to wear hazmat suits and follow strict protocols to ensure their safety while handling the patients to prevent exposure to the pathogen.

The Marburg virus, a cousin of the Ebola virus with a fatality rate as high as 80%, requires strict health and transport safety protocols in suspected patients. In the past year, there have been a small number of outbreaks of Marburg in Africa, including most recently in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea this year. Both outbreaks have subsided.

Although the risk of the Marburg virus coming to New York City is very low, officials are taking no chances when it comes to protecting the public’s health.

“New York City is a national leader in understanding how to respond, transport, and treat highly infectious diseases like Ebola and Marburg,” said Syra Madid, senior director of the Systemwide Special Pathogens Program at NYC Health + Hospitals.

The practice drill involved coordination among numerous municipal, state and federal agencies and was judged a success.

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