The emergency room at Beth Israel Medical Center's 212-bed hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., was shut down briefly yesterday after a patient who exhibited what appeared to be symptoms of smallpox sought treatment at the facility. The patient -- a 21-year-old United Kingdom resident who was visiting relatives -- arrived at the ER around noon, hospital spokesman Jim Mandler said. The ER was closed at about 2 p.m. and reopened at about 3:15 p.m. after consultation with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and the city's health and fire departments. The patient was discharged at 6:30 p.m. After careful examination of the patient, "it became clear it wasn't a case of smallpox," Mandler said, adding, "Given the circumstances, we did what we thought was appropriate and are satisfied with the way things ran." The last natural case of smallpox occurred in 1977, but hospitals have been on heightened alert since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, HHS announced an $11.4 million contract with Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, to determine if rescue and recovery workers and volunteers at the World Trade Center disaster site are experiencing related illnesses or injuries. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Smallpox scare shuts down N.Y. hospital ER briefly
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.