Message from President Merodie Hancock: Information Update on Ebola; College Concerns and Precautions

By Merodie Hancock, president, Office of the President

January 16, 2015

SUNY Empire State College Empire State College is implementing precautions to address concerns about the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in West Africa and how it might impact the college community.

The college’s deans and vice presidents are being consulted regarding the institution of protocols for emergency planning and development of procedures to aid in keeping track of who is in the college’s facilities at any given time. In the event we receive a report of possible exposure in a college building, we then would be able to provide public health officials with the names of those who should be contacted. This procedure will apply to all college locations. Additional plans are being developed in the event exposure occurs. We will use the college’s internal newsletters, Exchange and The Student Connection, to keep you informed, and when necessary, we will use the emergency alert system, RAVE, to share important information.

Any faculty, staff member or student with potential exposure by direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic or infected people or animals, or objects that have been contaminated, should contact his or her dean or vice president and the nearest county health department.

A list of those department contact numbers is at: https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/prevention_agenda/contact_list.htm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has instituted proactive steps to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers and included the SUNY Upstate and Stony Brook University hospitals as part of a network of hospitals across New York that will treat any potential patients. Additionally, SUNY has instituted a ban on campus-sponsored or approved travel to countries with current CDC Level 3 travel warnings. At this writing, those countries are Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The ban applies to all campus-related or funded activities, such as study abroad, Research Foundation grant activity and other official travel.

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has created an Ebola Working Group and asked that each campus name a point of contact person for Ebola-related issues. I have asked Mary Caroline Powers, our vice president for communications and government relations, to serve in this role and be the college’s point of contact for anyone with concerns or questions, information or resources related to Ebola.

As a college community, we must continue to comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New York State Department of Health and local public health authorities.

Here are links to their webpages:

New York State Department of Health’s Commissioner’s Order for Ebola Preparedness (Oct. 16, 2014) can be found at:
http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/ebola/

New York State Department of Health - Health Advisory: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Update #2 (Oct. 3, 2014), for Healthcare Providers, Hospitals, Local Health Departments, Laboratories, and Emergency Medical Service Providers:

http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/ebola/docs/doh_advisory_2.pdf

Advice for Colleges, Universities, and Students About Ebola in West Africa (Oct. 10, 2014)

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/advice-for-colleges-universities-and-students-about-ebola-in-west-africa

My primary concern is the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. I know I can depend on each of you to be vigilant in practicing careful hygiene, become and stay informed and be supportive of each other.

 

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