U.S. Surgeon General Makes First Visit To Cleveland

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Vivek Murthy spoke about the Affordable Care Act and the February 15th enrollment deadline. But he also noted the outbreaks of measles across the country. At last count, there were more than 10 dozen cases across 17 states for 2015.

And Murthy is urging measles shots for everyone, especially children.

“There’s still many people out there who are unware of the fact that vaccines are safe and effective because we haven’t seen measles in this country in epidemic proportions for a long time,” says Murthy. “Many parents may think that it’s a thing of the past or that it’s not so important to get vaccinated. But it absolutely is.”

Health officials say for people without the vaccine, they have a 90 percent chance of catching measles from an infected person.

A since-discredited study claiming autism is caused by certain vaccines – including measles -- has been blamed for discouraging people from getting shots.

The U.S. Surgeon General also visited Ohio’s sole Ebola Treatment Center. MetroHealth’s Ebola facility shares space with its burn unit.

Jennifer Hanrahan, MetroHealth’s Head of Infection Control, showed Murthy around.

“This is what’s called a negative pressure room,” she explained outside a glass-paned entryway. “It’s a ventilation system that doesn’t allow the air to come out here, so that people get exposed.”

Last month, the CDC designated MetroHealth as an Ebola Treatment Center. Surgeon General Murthy says he was pleased with the response here in the Greater Cleveland area last fall to an Ebola scare, and is happy there have been no more cases in the U.S. since last year.

“There is certainly thought that has gone into insuring that we are investing wisely and appropriately in designating treatment centers where there is the greatest likelihood of travelers coming through.”

But Hanrahan says while state and federal funding will help ensure a ready response here, she’s unsure when and how much.

“The personal protective equipment, there’s the staff time to do the training, there’s a lot of different things that go into it. Conservatively it’s about 1.6 million dollars per year.”

Hanrahan adds that there are still threats with infectious diseases ahead, especially with deployed soldiers coming home soon.

Right now there are 200 staffers trained, and two beds at MetroHealth to house future Ebola patients.

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