Governor Cuomo to encourage health care workers to travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that the State of New York and the City of New York would create a program of financial incentives and other employment protections to encourage health care professionals to travel to West Africa and provide assistance treating Ebola patients to help contain this disease.

“We believe that public health in West Africa and the public health in New York are interconnected and both must be addressed,” said Governor Cuomo. “The depth of the challenge we face in containing Ebola requires us to meet this test in a comprehensive manner on multiple fronts, and part of that is encouraging and incentivizing medical personnel to go to West Africa.”

“The brave and selfless doctors, nurses and health care workers who voluntary travel to hot zones in West Africa to combat Ebola are heroes, plain and simple, and we need their hard work, courage and sacrifice to protect all of us across the globe from this deadly virus,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We must also do more to encourage additional health care professionals to join this critical fight, and the partnership unveiled today will be instrumental in growing the ranks of these valiant doctors and nurses.”

This initiative would be modeled on benefits and rights provided to military reservists. In particular, the State of New York and the City of New York will work to ensure that health care workers who selflessly travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients would have their pay, health care, and employment statuses continue seamlessly when they get back. The State would also provide necessary reimbursements – to health care workers and their employers – for any quarantines that are needed upon their return to help protect public health and safety in New York.

The State of New York is coordinating this initiative with City of New York and other local governments; state partners, including the State of New Jersey; and Greater New York Hospital Association, 1199SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York, and other stakeholders. Additional details on the program will be announced in the near future.

“I am confident that New York’s hospitals will proudly do their part to help fight Ebola at its source by covering the salaries of their returning doctors and nurses during a 21-day quarantine should a quarantine be necessary,” said Greater New York Hospital Association president Kenneth E. Raske. “It is simply the right thing to do for these heroes, and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in encouraging our frontline caregivers to volunteer their services in West Africa.”

Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association, said: “These incentives from the State will deliver additional support to those selfless nurses who act to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. Our hearts are with the thousands of victims of Ebola and their families, and with the caregivers who are fighting this epidemic. We support the Governor’s efforts to protect the wages, benefits, and employment statuses of nurses and other healthcare workers who travel to West Africa to care for those in need.”