FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2014; 12:00 pm
Dr. Ram Raju President and CEO New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
Craig Spencer Press Conference
November 11, 2014
HHC President Remarks on Dr. Craig Spencer
Thank you, Mr. Mayor and Commissioner Bassett for your continued support of HHC and our team at Bellevue.
Today is an important day; the day Dr. Spencer is going home. We must acknowledge that this day is possible because of the compassion, the dedication and the great skills of HHC and the Bellevue staff.
I will be brief, but I want to make three points:
First, I am elated because we were able to treat and cure a hero. And I believe that very strongly.
The dictionary defines "hero" as someone "admired for his achievements and noble qualities" and "one who shows great courage." Dr. Spencer meets this definition in every way.
Dr. Spencer put himself in harm's way in horrendous conditions to help people he didn't know. And had he not contracted the Ebola virus himself, few people would have ever heard of him.
There are many like Dr. Spencer – many people who put themselves in harm's way to care for others in developing countries. These are the unsung heroes of our time.
Dr. Spencer and his colleagues don't just help West Africa. "Doctors Without Borders" and others like them help the entire world. Because if you want to stop Ebola the only real way is at its source. And that's what these people do.
Today we send these heroes a clear message: The NYC public hospital system will care for you if you ever have the misfortune to contract Ebola. We applaud you and we thank you. We've got your back.
The second point I'd like to make is that this is a vindication of this country's health care delivery system.
When some were fanning fears about Ebola and subjecting the country to misinformation and panic, we were calmly preparing. Some of this misinformation even led to discrimination against several brave healthcare workers. But Mayor de Blasio addressed that issue here at Bellevue wonderfully and I thank him for that.
Meticulous coordination and preparation leads to great outcomes for patients. In my over 30 years of health care experience as a physician and leader, I have never before seen the level of collaboration and coordination that went on behind the scenes to prepare NYC for Ebola.
And it has paid off. Today the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Bellevue join the very limited ranks of hospitals in the US that have successfully treated an Ebola patient.
We have prevailed and shown that we can take care of this complex disease. And once again we have demonstrated the prowess of this nation's health care system, which really is the best in the world.
Lastly, I will say that this episode has proven again why public health systems are so important.
It's hard to overstate the significance of the Health and Hospitals Corporation to New York City. In today's world, my health depends on yours and your health depends on mine. It doesn't matter how much money you have – the health of every person in this room depends on the health of every other person in this room.
The only time you can really choose not to care about public health is if you live in a place where there is no human contact.
This episode once again underscores the value of public hospital systems to our country, and the need to support them and preserve them and be grateful to the compassionate and selfless professionals who staff them.
People think of HHC as treating the poor and the uninsured, and that's true. We treat everyone without exception; we don't turn anyone away.
But today shows that HHC and the public health care system are also at the forefront of cutting edge medicine.
We are not the caregivers of last resort – we are the caregivers of choice.
When New York City had the urgent need to prepare for Ebola it was HHC that stepped forward first and did the job right. And we remain on guard for additional cases if necessary.
I could not be more proud.
For more information, visit the NYC Department of Health website and the CDC website.