Following the example set by President Bush to encourage more civilians to voluntarily receive the smallpox vaccination, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rolled up his sleeve recently at his City Hall office to receive the shots. Five additional officials from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also received the vaccination, which has not been routinely administered in the city since 1972 after naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated. Bush received the shot Dec. 21, 2002.
"Even though we are not requiring any city employees to receive a smallpox vaccination, many potential first responders will choose to do so, and I don't want them to take any risks that I would not take myself," Bloom-berg says. "We are taking every conceivable precaution to protect the people of this city and we want them to feel assured, not alarmed, as we continue to increase our ability to respond to any possible threat."
A month into Bush's smallpox vaccination campaign, which began Jan. 24 when the Homeland Security Act took effect, the number of emergency and healthcare workers who have received vaccinations is a fraction of what federal officials anticipated. There have been no reports of life-threatening or serious adverse reactions. As of Feb. 19, 4,213 public health employees and healthcare workers in 27 jurisdictions had received the vaccine, compared with the 500,000 workers officials had hoped would receive the vaccine in the campaign's initial months.
City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden says for most people, the vaccine is safe. "However, as there are risks associated with taking the smallpox vaccine we will closely monitor the condition of everyone vaccinated." City officials say that by the end of May, 5,000 to 10,000 health and safety workers in New York City will be vaccinated. There are no plans to offer vaccinations to the general public.
Between a Bush and a Bush
Ruben King-Shaw Jr., the deputy administrator and COO of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, denies rumors that he will step down to become Florida's lieutenant governor. King-Shaw tells Outliers that he's "torn between two Bushes. How do you say no to one Bush and not another?"
King-Shaw is serving on a White House special assignment as senior adviser to Treasury Secretary John Snow to coordinate efforts to expand healthcare insurance to low-income populations through tax credits. He's held that position since January.
King-Shaw, who joined the Bush administration in July 2001 after serving three years as secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, says he was tempted by the offer from his mentor and former boss, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. "He's my friend," says King-Shaw, thought to be a government and political rising star in the Sunshine State, where he lived for 20 years before joining the CMS. "But I've taken on a great assignment from the president. It's important work. And it's hard for me to walk away from the president and this mission right now."
On Jan. 31, Florida Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan announced his resignation to assume the post of president of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Hospitals kick it up a notch
Hospital food has gotten a makeover in recent years, but few people would think it'd be in league with cooking by famed chefs such as Emeril Lagasse.
This year, five hospital cafes and their managers have been nominated by the editors of Restaurants & Institutions magazine for their Ivy Awards to be presented in May at an annual restaurant show in Chicago. In 2002, Maine Medical Center in Portland was among the five recipients honored for their creative menus, skillful execution, good service and comfortable setting. Other winners have included Emeril's in New Orleans, Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse in Chicago and Tribeca Grill in New York. Two hospitals have been honored in the past 10 years, and 13 total have been recognized since the award's inception in 1970.
Nominees this year include Florida Hospital Medical Center, Orlando; MetroHealth System, Cleveland; Presbyterian Hospital of Plano, Texas; St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Henderson, Nev.; and Via Christi Regional Medical Center, Wichita, Kan.
Patti Dollarhide, director of nutrition services at Via Christi, nominated for the second consecutive year, says hospital cafeterias have come a long way since the days of serving low-grade steaks for a dollar. "We generate real revenue to offset costs," Dollarhide says. "By getting better-trained chefs, we can give the people what they want."