April 1, 2015

Press Release # 015-15
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Christopher Miller/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Four DOHMH Employees Assist with Ebola Response in Guinea

As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola effort in Africa, employees will spend one month in Guinea working as disease detectives and assisting with the overall outbreak response

April 1, 2015  - The Health Department today announced that four agency employees have volunteered to fight Ebola in West Africa. The employees will spend one month in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, working as “disease detectives” and assisting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ overall outbreak response.

Before leaving for Guinea, the employees will receive training at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta. The employees will not have direct contact with Ebola patients, but will be actively monitored by the Health Department when they return to New York City as a precaution.

“The best way to protect everyone from Ebola is by helping to control the epicenter of this outbreak,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio . “I applaud the courage of the Health Department volunteers going to West Africa and am certain their expertise and experience will be an incredible resource for the community.”

“Ebola is still a tragedy in West Africa and we must do our part to fight this deadly disease,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett . “These staff members were crucial to our response to the city’s first Ebola patient, and I’m so proud that they are volunteering to help stop the outbreak at its source.”

During their time in Guinea, the four employees will support the response team currently working on the Ebola outbreak and work as “disease detectives” to trace patient contacts participate in the following activities:

  • Analyzing data from needs assessments and working with team leads to update country work plans.
  • Building infection control capacity.
  • Assisting in tracking progress of implementing country work plans.
  • Assisting with efforts to improve national Ebola surveillance in Guinea.

More about the Health Department Employees

Dr. Jo Anne Bennett, currently a Senior Research Scientist in the Bureau of Informatics, came to the Health Department almost 20 years ago as a research consultant for an HIV prevention project with adolescents. She has been active in the City’s Ebola response - helping to establish the Active Monitoring Call Center and providing Infection Control training to the Primary Care Emergency Network.

David Starr is the Director of the Countermeasures Response Unit in the department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response. Since 2006, he has overseen New York City’s medical countermeasure planning. During the 2014 and ongoing Ebola response in the city, he served as the Quarantine and Monitoring Branch Director for most of the period of October through December.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been approximately 25,000 Ebola cases in West Africa to date. For more information about the disease, visit nyc.gov/ebola.